Notes from Dilla Time
These are stray notes I take from Dilla Time, the excellent book by Dan Charnas on J Dilla.
- Solos in jazz don’t usually start on the first beat, rather entering in a delayed fashion. This defiance of expectation is a built-in feature of african-american diaspora music, and almost an act of rebellion against straght-time melody of european tradition.
- Funk is the building up up tension towards the One - via rhythm.
- Most of what is attributed to ‘feel’ is actually methodic - and this applies to Dilla’s work specially.
- The phisicality of the instrument shapes the possibilities of the music - only through the MPC’s innovation does Dilla achieve his signature sound.
- Listening to lots of music is paramount to create music (and this is something I see a lot - people trying to play, but not listening). When Dilla started producing he had the sounds of Motown classics already in his head, among many other things.
- A musician that doesn’t keep listening to new music can’t progress. The passion for beat-making can’t exist without the joy that the original sources give the beat-maker. You really should not stop listening to music just because you want to produce it (produce understood both in the general and the hip hop-specific sense).
- As always: community is everything. A talent is nurtured by the people that give it the space and time to flourish.
- The line between jazz and hip hop is so much thinner than people realize.