The hip-hop community has been celebrating J Dilla throughout this entire month, so I thought that it was only appropriate, as February comes to a close, that I share with you guys my 5 favorite Dilla beats.
“She Said (Jay Dee Remix)” – The Pharcyde
If you're having a bad day, just listen to the beat from this track and it'll for sure perk you up. While I'm a big fan of the original version, Dilla’s remix takes this song to a whole other level. The beat mixed with Pharcyde’s harmony on the chorus still sends chills down my spine every time I hear it.
“The Light” – Common
This is probably Dilla’s most well known beat. At the behest of ?uestlove, Dilla contributed much to the production of Like Water For Chocolate. He leaves his fingerprints all over the record that is considered by many to be Common’s finest. The track that stands out to most is “The Light.” It’s a showcase of Dilla’s genius and has become known as a track that defines J Dilla’s production style.
“Find A Way” – A Tribe Called Quest
Dilla first made a name for himself as member of The Ummah, the production team (consisting of Dilla, Q-Tip, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad) that produced Tribe’s last two records. Of all of The Ummah’s beats, “Find A Way” is, in my opinion, the catchiest. Everything about this beat is so well done. From the subtle beginning, to when the bass drops, everything on this beat works. Combined with Phife Dawg and Q-Tip doing their thing on the mic, Dilla’s beat makes “Find A Way” one of those songs that you can listen to on repeat for hours at a time.
“Stakes Is High” – De La Soul
There’s nothing really that complicated about this beat, and that’s what makes it so damn good. It’s a classic example of how the simplest of beats can be dope. De La Soul's Stakes Is High is a far cry from the light-hearted nature of their landmark debut, and most famous record, 3 Feet High & Rising, and the title track is a great example of its darker and grittier edge. Even though Dilla is known for having more of a soulful flavor to his beats, he shows his versatility in matching De La’s intensity on “Stakes Is High.”
“Runnin” – The Pharcyde
In order to truly appreciate the beauty of this beat, you have to know where it comes from. Before I heard the sample, I considered “Runnin” to be not only my favorite Pharcyde song, but also one of my favorite songs in all of hip-hop. But then I heard “Saudade Vem Correndo” by Stan Getz and Louiz Bonfa on my dad’s radio, and my mind was blown. This track is definitely my all-time favorite Dilla beat. Even though it doesn’t really have that “Dilla sound,” I think it shows J Dilla’s genius as one of the greatest hip-hop producers of all time.