February 07, 2020

J Dilla "Next" Feature in Vibe Magazine (June/July, 1996)

"I met Tip backstage at Lollapalooza in '94," says the humble Detroit native. "I had a group that John Salley was managing -- so I gave Tip a tape, and the same day he called back. He was, like, 'Yo, who did these beats?' After that, shit just took off." Q-Tip hooked Jay Dee up with the Pharcyde, and Jay ended up producing the hit singles "Runnin'" and "Drop" for Labcabincalifornia. Then he created some of the best moments on Busta Rhymes's recent The Coming. With a strong ear for vibrant jazz melodies, Jay Dee's work slips snugly into the low-end-y creative slot vacated in the wake of Tribe's 1993 Midnight Marauders. Fittingly, Jay Dee, Q-Tip, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad recently formed a production alliance called the Ummah (Arabic for "brotherhood"), and they share track duties on Tribe's forthcoming Beats, Rhymes and Life. "We had a brotherhood from when we picked up," Jay Dee explains in an easy midwestern drawl. He has reached quite an esteemed place -- especially for a self-described nerd who once aspired to be an Air Force pilot. Today, Jay Dee is charting the trajectory of his rising career. Plans include securing a deal for his Motor City crew, Slum Village (for which he produces and rhymes) as well as imminent collaborations with De La Soul, Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s Lil Kim, Common, and Pete Rock. But while getting such props can make living up to your rep difficult, Jay Dee doesn't think so. "I'm steppin' back and lookin' at everything," he says evenly. "I'm tryin' to stay on some new shit. 'Cause people fall off every day." He pauses, "And I ain't the one." - Next, Vibe Magazine (June/July, 1996). Always loved Jay Dee's energy. R.I.P. J Dilla.