Way back when the world was turning from one millenium to another, I wasn’t much of a hip hop listener. In high school, my friends gave me three “indie”/”undie” records to get me into the genre, mostly underground west coast legends. When I finally got my shot on the radio, another DJ dared me to try to use the Technics-1200s, sitting in the studio collecting dust. Soon after, I never used the CD players in the studio – all I wanted was to try the turntables and the mixer. I loved, and still love, the feel of a vinyl record under my fingers, the incredible power of manipulation one has with a song that you know inside and out. From that love of vinyl I found out I could mix anything by Jay Dilla with Jay Dilla. It’s the hip-hop DJ’s greatest trick. You think the DJ is effortlessly mixing the Pharcyde, Busta Rhymes, Slum Village, Janet Jackson, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and Erykah Badu together. But it’s all James Dewitt Yancey, a legend.
It’s those drums. Some songs have drums like a pistol shot, but Dilla’s drums cruise in from Alpha Centauri. The timing is inimitable. The sample, Gap Mangione’s “Diana in the Autumn Wind,” distorts, smoothing out into a seductive, intoxicating organ line. T-3 and Dilla’s verses are not about falling in love. They balance dreams against necessity. Dilla rhymes,
“I sit and wonder when I think about these written rhymes.
How’d I get to the point constantly taking all my time?
Time I could of been spending gettin’ cash, gettin’ mine.”
In 2000, maybe Dilla didn’t realize that this song was one step on his way to “getting mine.” This music is all about love. It has become one of my essential tracks, one that whoever I fell in love with would have to love as well. Thankfully she does and I have nothing to do with it. The flow of the organ on the drum is everything, something we can all fall in love with or to.