J Dilla Remembered in Stussy Documentary
In honor of the late James "J Dilla" Yancey, the Stussy clothing company has produced a three-part documentary short on the Los Angeles years of the Detroit native. Yancey is widely considered one of the most influential producers in the history of hip-hop, working with such artists as the Roots, D'Angelo, and A Tribe Called Quest.
Part one -- 'Introductions' -- discusses Yancey's roots in L.A., where he moved in the spring of 2004 and lived until dying of Lupus on Feb. 10, 2006. Contributors include a litany of friends and collaborators, including Peanut Butter Wolf and Egon of Stones Throw Records, longtime KCRW DJ Garth Trinidad, engineer Dave Cooley, and DJs Houseshoes, J.Rocc, and Rhettmatic.
"Dilla was synonymous with Detroit for all of us," says Egon in the film. "And all of us regarded him as a mythic figure ... he would pop into these different cities, but he was clearly Detroit."
Part two -- 'Detroit to Los Angeles' -- examines the relationship between the Detroit and L.A. music scenes and the influence L.A. had on Yancey's work, notably the recording of the Jaylib album with producer Madlib and the last project before his death, 'Donuts.'
"I think mentally it just kind of freed his mind," rapper and longtime friend Frank Nitty said of Dilla's time on the West Coast. "It's a different, an easier, better way of life out here [Los Angeles] compared to where we were [Detroit]. I think it just freed him up to think like, 'Man, I can do whatever I want to do, even if I want to go back [musically],' 'cause it was hard for him to go backwards. He liked staying ahead of the curve. But 'Donuts' was really loops and breaks." Part three – 'Donuts' – premieres on Feb. 24.
Check out part one and two after the jump.