For all the derision that Pitchfork’s hip hop coverage inspires, Nate Patrin’s treatise on the ongoing influence of Dilla reads among the most compelling and comprehensive that I’ve read anywhere. It’s easy to play the connect the dots game with Dilla, but much harder to assess the specifics of his subtly shifting sound and analyze why it has had such a seismic impact — it is about far more than him being dead and off-beat drums. This paragraph is a pretty much perfect summation:
“His immaculate sense of rhythmic interplay and carefully built atmospherics were what put him in the upper echelon of producers in the late 1990s, and his creative restlessness and experimentation were what kept him there through the 00s. He was never content to wring every last drop out of one of his stylistic phases, opting instead to move on once he felt he’d hit a particular zenith. This left him with a body of work that was a succession of distinct yet naturally progressing phases, exploring and evolving where other great producers were merely content to inch forward or simply maintain. And that’s how he managed to be such a distinct influence on so many artists, whether they were traditional hip-hop heads, farsighted futurists, or home-studio 4-track operators.”
The article limns Dilla’s key releases, from Da’ Enna C.’s “Now” through Donuts. Excised was a bullet point on Stones Throw and the Dilla estate’s recent collaboration with Serato, which Nate accurately described as “fitting that one of the most recent official releases of Dilla’s work, a small collection of instrumentals dubbed Donut Shop, was co-branded by the digital DJ mixing equipment manufacturer Serato. Go ahead, it says, see what you can build from this.” Recently, the Roots released a free mixtape of instrumental Dilla re-workings that I missed in the 50 post-a-day haze that defines the Internet. Maybe you did too. It is posted below and recommended for the various votaries. Plus, Stones Throw’s release of the six cuts from the Donut Shop.
While I’m on the topic of Midwesterners hailing from economically depressed one-time industrial hubs, I’m also posting YoursTruly’s mini-documentary on Freddie Gibbs. I’ve said enough about Gibbs and it’s impossible to top this Complex interview, but credit Will Abramson and co. for wringing something poignant and interesting out of an increasingly well-known narrative. –Weiss