Originally published in Scratch magazine, February 2006
“I went through that whole thing a lot cats either go through or went to,” J-Dilla, November 2005
Much like Dilla’s life, this interview was ended way too soon. Three years later I read this and think “damn, he really was saying some real spit.” You can hear just a little bit of the frustration that J-Dilla felt as a producer despite the accolades he’s been showered with since his death. He read the reviews of his work just like you all do, and while some might not want to admit it now, those reviews weren’t always positive. Even though he’d racked up an impressive discography, he still had to cater to the artists he made beats for. And while Momma Yancey is clearly his biggest supporter, even she had some misgivings about his career choice in the beginning. So when you read this don’t just think of J-Dilla the gifted musician, remember James Dewitt Yancey the man.
Interview by Alvin “Aqua Boogie” Blanco
Aqua: What made you choose L.A. over Miami or NYC?
J-Dilla: I thought about New York but in New York the studio would get crowded with a lot of people. In LA, you look outside it’s like palm trees, sunshine and you know a totally different feel working.
You mentioned not having a bunch of people in the studio, do you like to keep it just you and the artist in the studio?
Yeah, I like to keep it to a minimum.
What part of L.A. is it?
Do you still keep a crib in Detroit?
Yeah, I still got the crib and then actually all my equipment is out there. I’m looking for a crib now so I can ship my equipment out here.
I’m assuming you got some equipment out in L.A. right?
I got just the basics. AN MPC a couple of turntables and that’s really it.
What equipment did you start with?
I started with the SP-12 then moved to the SP-1200 and then shortly after that the MPC-60, then the MPC-62, then the MPC3000 and I’ve been on the MPC 3000 ever since then. I’ve tried other samplers but the 3000 is best for me for what I like to do.
What about it specifically?
It’s just easier for me to program and I like the node offs and mono pads. I can just do more with it. I guess cause I know it better.
As far as your records are you a big digger?
Yeah man. I’m a record shopping fanatic. I already got a nice stash here and I got a warehouse full of records in Detroit, it’s ridiculous. I lost a lot of records too. Having them in that storage paper, records was getting damp and to go back periodically and check on them is kind of hard.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Well, if you're not sure you want to do just one thing for the rest of your life, you're not alone. In this illuminating talk, writer and artist Emilie Wapnick describes the kind of people she calls "multipotentialites" -- who have a range of interests and jobs over one lifetime. Are you one? This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxBend, an independent event.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Emilie Wapnick · Writer, coach, artistCareer coach Emilie Wapnick celebrates the "multipotentialite" -- those of us with many interests, many jobs over a lifetime, and many interlocking potentials.
In 1998, I was managing Brave New World on 7th and Arch. That's where I met Ahmir aka Questlove. He was chilling one night, I think on Tiffany Bacon's night in the Red Room which was the smaller side of the venue. We became friends and started to hang out... Shortly after, Jam from KBA HQ (remember all of the cigarette promotions and parties?! That was KBA) came and offered me a Program Manager position. I was looking to get out of being at BNW til 3am every night so I took the job. EVERYONE worked at KBA. Sao, Jenn Bragg, Tony Allen, Wayne, Yameen and more... Me, Yameen and Ahmir started to hang out a lot together. Going to parties, going to Tower Records every Tuesday - literally every Tuesday in my VW Bug, lots of memories at The South Street diner and more. The South Street Diner is where our future was kind of born. At the time, we had been talking about how there was something missing party wise in the city and we were itching to do a party... Our friend Jack Boogi at the time was working with a new place called Filo's which was at 2nd and Pine. He offered us Saturday nights which he was running with DJ Train. So, we said yes! It was the The South St Diner in 2000, where we dreamt up Tastytreats, Jawn Tshirts, Tastykakes at parties, and a little company called Squarebiz..
At the time, I lived at 455 Fairmount, and remember us in my living room on my computer making our logo. We had no idea what was to come. We launched Tastytreats at Filo's with DJ's Questlove and Train in May 2001. And it was an instant hit. We packed that place every Saturday night for almost 2 years. Even had legends DJ Jazzy Jeff and DJ Cash Money guest DJ a few times, if you can believe that with as small as it was. One night, our great friend Oronde (RIP) came one night and could barley get through crowd it was so tight. I often would camp out in our tiny DJ section because it was so crowded. Lol. At the time, he was doing security over at Fluid. He was like, "Yo, you wanna move this shit?" He offered us Saturday nights and we knew it was time to expand so we said yes! At the time, DJ Mike Nyce was spinning at The Palmer. I think it was Yameen that suggested we bring Mike with us for the move. We reached out to Mike and ironically, he was looking for a change so he accepted. We made the seamless transition and never looked back.
13 years later, in 2014 when Fluid closed, we looked back at a weekly event for 13 years that changed nightlife culture forever. We booked DJ's that weren't being booked in Philly and gave them a home. A home that wasn't centered around Top 40 music. They were able to come and spin the music they loved al the while folks singing all of the lyrics at them dancing the night away. No fights, no issues, just people enjoying the vibes. I'll never forget one of the times I booked Biz Markie. I booked him for being Biz. Spinning Classics, Hip-Hop, etc.... He spun a few Wu-Tang songs and the crowd, in true fashion, sang word for word and Biz was hype. So hype, that he spun nothing but Wu-Tang for his entire set! Ha! I was mad but the crowd loved it. Over the 13 years, we booked DJ's (Questlove + Mike Nyce), DJ Jazzy Jeff, Q-Tip, Premier with Guru (GangStarr), 9th Wonder, Ali Shaheed Muhammad (ATCQ), DJ Scratch (EPMD), Biz Markie, Kool Here, Luvbug Starski, Da Beatminerz, Rich Medina, Spinna, Bobbito, Pete Rock, Beverly Bond, Mr. Sonny James, Ultraviolet, lil' Dave, Afrodjiak and many more. We've even had some guest hosts like Phonte of Little Brother, GrandMaster Melle Mel, Lady Alma and more. I feel so blessed to look back and see such a legendary list of talent that really, genuinely loved what we were doing.
It's almost hard to explain how special those years were to those who were to young to remember or the folks that just never knew. But if you know, you KNOW! It was classic. It was special. It was a moment in time. It was years of memories that I will never forget and will forever feel blessed to have done what we've done, to share what we've shared and to have met so many of you. Tastytreats and Squarebiz brought folks together. There are so many people that met at our party and continued to raise families and businesses together. Or have formed lifelong friendships. Shout out to the Squarebiz Message Boards! Haha.
So, Philly, we thank you. We thank you and invite you to come enjoy our one night reunion with us on Thanksgiving Weekend in Philadelphia on Saturday November 25, 2017 at Tastytreats with DJ's Questlove + Mike Nyce plus, host Yameen Allworld. You can find us at Mousai at Cibo on 1227 Walnut St. Doors open at 9m with drink specials plus, discounted parking above the Starbucks at 12th and Walnut Sts.
Please tell a friend and we'll see you on the dancefloor.
Get to know one of Philly's Hottest New Soul Singers in this up-close-and-personal short documentary. This documentary was an official Selection Dever Pan African Film Festival and was created by ReelBlack. She's one of our many featured performers for our hurricane fundraiser on Saturday October 21, 2017 at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia. She's donating her time and talent so that we can raise money to provide for families in the USVI who have been devastated by the hurricanes. Through the Adopt a Family Program, we will purchase, pack and ship each families requests with love, from Philly. For more info and tickets please click here.
Lady Alma’s fans run the gamut – from progressive artists like Moby, Kindred the Family Soul, India.Arie, Joan Osborne, Musiq and Les Nubians to regular working-class folk in West London clubs and West Philly barber shops. In cities everywhere from Atlanta and Amsterdam to Toronto and Tokyo, vocal sensation Alma Horton — known to her fans worldwide as LADY ALMA – has become the name to know, deemed “the heart & soul of Philadelphia’s soul scene” and heralded as “the truth in a roomful of lies” among tastemaker’s circles.
In 1997, hip-hop was enjoying a unprecedented boom. For the better part of a decade, the genre had had been growing creatively and expanding commercially. New York rap had been enjoying four year post-G-Funk resurgence that had been highlighted by acclaimed debuts from iconic acts like Wu-Tang Clan, the Notorious B.I.G., Nas, and Jay Z, as well as landmark releases from Redman, A Tribe Called Quest and Mobb Deep, among others. 1997 opened with New York’s dominance firmly re-established.
While the year would come to be defined by the murder of the Notorious B.I.G., and the resulting “jiggy” shift in the wake of that tragedy, the debut album from Bronx duo Camp Lo, would follow a quirkier tradition; celebrating their refreshingly underground style and even flirting with the mainstream–courtesy of one of the greatest rap singles of all time.
Rappers Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede hailed from the mean streets of The Bronx, and were originally separate entities. Producer Ski Beatz introduced the two; soon thereafter, Geechi Suede, who had already been working under the tutelage of Ski, would begin to bounce ideas off of Sonny Cheeba, who was attending school in Virginia at the time.
Submit your email address above to get info when it's released on creative classes with Flygirrl for her Summer Session. Classes will vary in the subjects of Art, Graphics, Event Planning, and DYI for both adults and kids. Stay tuned!
On Friday, April 21, 2017, marks 1 year since the greatest to EVER do it passed away. Prince Rogers Nelson left us but left us his magic that we can live with forever. At Philly Loves Prince, we'll celebrate him through his music, film, videos, art and so much more. I'm planning a very special night and would love for you to save the date to be in attendance. Stay tuned by signing up for my email list or by joining the Facebook event.
In the meantime, please enjoy the entire night of music from Purple Vibes - the 5 hour night we produced the night after Prince passed away. DJ's Cosmo Baker, Mr. Sonny James and Lean Wit It poured their heart and souls into that night. It was bittersweet.
Thank you Bilal, Ursula Rucker, Johnny Brenda's and of course, you, Philly!
[ PHOTOS BY TIRZAH VOGELS ]
Erykah Badu (aka Badulla Oblongata, aka Sara Bellum, aka Analogue Girl in a Digital World, aka @FatBellyBella, aka SHE ILL, aka Manuela Maria Mexico) breaks down the sometimes confusing meaning behind some of her most popular BADUIZMS. 'Cause girl...
Source: Centric TV
The countdown is on to our 4th Annual Philly Loves Dilla night! Saturday night, we gather on Dilla's 42nd birthday and the 10th anniversary of his passing. No better way to honor him than to gather and soak in all he's left us musically. DJ's Mike Nyce, Jay Ski and Mr Sonny James are spinning 3 for 3 on 4 turntables all night! With a tribute video and live and exhibited Dilla artwork by Flygirrl, Ameerah K Art, Son Art, JRuggs and Oronde Kairi Johnson. Some prints available and a portion of all proceeds will benefit The J Dilla Foundation. Doors at 9pm, $10 at the door. See you on the dance floor!
Enjoy this Dilla For Life mix by DJ Mike Nyce to get warmed up for Saturday and pass it on....
Music Soulchild, Raheem DeVaughn and V live