When it comes to VIBE’s hotly contested Greatest Hip Hop Producer Of All Time Tournament, Erykah Badu has one clear-cut favorite.
“His name is James Yancey and they call him J Dilla," says the singer, who is enjoying the success of her critically acclaimed album, New Amerykah, Part Two: Return of the Ankh. "What number do you have him ranked?”
When told that the late legendary Detroit producer was seeded at a top tier no. 6 in our Soul Sample bracket, Badu mused, “Boy, y’all crazy! Y’all better put J Dilla at number one. Everybody out now is influenced by him. I don’t give a damn what people or critics say. They might not want to say it… producers and artists will take certain things from Dilla, but they wont admit it because of ego. You go to Japan and ask them who J Dilla is. Go to Europe, go to Mexico. They will all tell you we know J Dilla.”
Dilla’s patchwork production style can be heard on Return of the Ankh. But Badu’s relationship with the groundbreaking beatsmith goes back. “I have one of his tracks on the new album called 'Love.' But he also did 'Didn’t You Know?' and 'Kiss Me On My Neck' on Mama’s Gun. I did those songs with him in his basement in his mama’s house. This man is incredible. This man is a scientist. This man takes a sample and makes them into voices and other instruments. Dilla is what’s up."
She continues: "People like Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, and Organized Noize are impeccable. But if we are talking about producing and the skill of it, it’s J Dilla for me. He played the drums live. He didn’t hire an intern to do the beat [laughs]. I vote for J Dilla all day.”—Keith Murphy