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Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm

Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm

by Dan Charnas

Hardcover

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Overview

A NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER

"This book is a must for everyone interested in illuminating the idea of unexplainable genius.” —QUESTLOVE

Equal parts biography, musicology, and cultural history, Dilla Time chronicles the life and legacy of J Dilla, a musical genius who transformed the sound of popular music for the twenty-first century.


He wasn’t known to mainstream audiences, even though he worked with renowned acts like D’Angelo and Erykah Badu and influenced the music of superstars like Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson. He died at the age of thirty-two, and in his lifetime he never had a pop hit. Yet since his death, J Dilla has become a demigod: revered by jazz musicians and rap icons from Robert Glasper to Kendrick Lamar; memorialized in symphonies and taught at universities. And at the core of this adulation is innovation: a new kind of musical time-feel that he created on a drum machine, but one that changed the way “traditional” musicians play.

In Dilla Time, Dan Charnas chronicles the life of James DeWitt Yancey, from his gifted childhood in Detroit, to his rise as a Grammy-nominated hip-hop producer, to the rare blood disease that caused his premature death; and follows the people who kept him and his ideas alive. He also rewinds the histories of American rhythms: from the birth of soul in Dilla’s own “Motown,” to funk, techno, and disco. Here, music is a story of Black culture in America and of what happens when human and machine times are synthesized into something new. Dilla Time is a different kind of book about music, a visual experience with graphics that build those concepts step by step for fans and novices alike, teaching us to “see” and feel rhythm in a unique and enjoyable way.

Dilla’s beats, startling some people with their seeming “sloppiness,” were actually the work of a perfectionist almost spiritually devoted to his music. This is the story of the man and his machines, his family, friends, partners, and celebrity collaborators. Culled from more than 150 interviews about one of the most important and influential musical figures of the past hundred years, Dilla Time is a book as delightfully detail-oriented and unique as J Dilla’s music itself.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374139940
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 02/01/2022
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 3,045
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Dan Charnas is the author of the definitive history of the hip-hop business, The Big Payback (NAL/Penguin). He’s also the author of Work Clean (Rodale/Harmony), a book detailing applying chefs’ techniques to almost any life situation. He was the co-creator and executive producer of the VH1 movie and TV series, The Breaks. He lives in Manhattan, and is an associate professor at NYU/Tisch’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.

Table of Contents

Go: A Note from the Author xi

1 Wrong 3

2 Straight Time/Swing Time 9

3 Play Jay 33

4 Machine Time 46

5 Dee Jay 54

6 Sample Time 78

7 Jay Dee 92

8 Dilla Time 140

9 Partners 154

10 Pay Jay 201

11 Warp Time 238

12 J Dilla 249

13 Zealots 308

14 Micro Time 354

15 Descendants/Disciples 363

16 Fragments 387

Reporter's Notes and Sources 401

Selected Discography 423

Thanks 437

Index 443

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