Not too long ago, my boy B.Dot from RapRadar.com posted up a blog where he confessed that he pretty much missed Dilla's entire career. All of the "Dilla Changed My Life" T shirt rockin' zealots around him were convincing him that in the new Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit will be replaced by Dilla holding an MPC 2000XL (The Catholic Church does that from time to time I heard). He finally decided to check out as much of Dilla's catalogue as possible. He came away from the experience saying that he thought Dilla was overrated. When the post first hit RapRadar.com, the Dilla stans and fans went bananas. I understood where he was coming from but I acknowledged that no amount of after the fact research (under the above conditions especially) could make you understand why James Yancey is so revered by other producers, musicians and emcees alike.
The whole wave of Dilla zealots have fucked up the man's legacy almost as much as those damn 2Pac worshippers (some people call 'em the "2Pac Army") have destroyed the experience of listening to Tupac Amaru Shakur's music because of their over the top stannery. The by product? A major music magazine listed 2Pac as one of the most overrated artists in music history. Anyone that's ever been on Okayplayer knows how rampant the Dilla fanaticsm is, the big difference being that I was actually aware of the man during his career and I bought his music and recognized his genius rather early on. I've been a Jay Dee/J Dilla fan since '95 or '96, that when I first realized who he was and that he'd made quite a few heat rocks.
If you weren't around other producers like I was at the time (or unless you are a DJ/musician/artist/producer) that could break down his tracks and tell you exactly why they were so ill or you were around and bought/heard Slum Village's "Fantastic Vol.1", J-88's "Best Kept Secret" Import from Germany, Slum Village's "Fantastic Vol. 2" and all of those Bling47 Jay Dee instrumental CD's that dropped on Sandbox Automatic between 1999-2002 to his "Ruff Draft EP" and "Champion Sound" with Madlib in 2003 then I don't know what to tell you. You can't forget about all of the classic production he did for other artists from 1999-2004 down to 2005's "Welcome 2 Detroit" LP with BBE. If you weren't aware of J Dilla THEN no amount of posthumous research could properly give you insight to exactly how ill he was on the production tip.
I knew cats that used to play Dilla beats and talk about how ill his chops were and how crazy his beats were...this is back in 2000/1, mind you. My boy Vanguard, brother Buctayla and my boy Cardi used to discuss producers all the time, sounds, drums, who quantized what, what equipment to use or how you could tell what machine/setup a producer used and Dilla was always in discussion along with the other greats in the game. There's a reason that Little Brother named themselves after a song with a Dilla beat, mind you. If other producers are discussing you all the time, you're ill. If Madlib wants to work with you, you MUST be ill.
Near the end of Dilla's life and career the stans multiplied and the vultures were out in force. He managed to get "Donuts" and "The Shining" done before he passed (Karriem Riggins helped in finishing his projects as well). On Okayplayer, people set up threads were you could check in after buying "Donuts" and "The Shining"...on both they ended badly when both albums sold far less than we all hoped. They were both independent albums, after all. In any event, if you're a Hip Hop fan that was never into Dilla and you encounters one of these nuts that tell you that Dilla was the God Of Beats then your expectation level is automatically built up so high that hearing "Raise It Up" 9 years late won't convince you of shit.
Now, the man's entire back catalog is internet gold, the three beat tapes of "treats" he sent out to artists and friends and his 2003 MCA LP "Pay Jay" have all leaked and both versions of "Jay Love Japan" have hit the internet as well. There are still more albums coming out with Dilla beats on them (such as Illa J's "Yancey Boys") and another Dilla album called "Jay Stay Paid" is set to drop on June 2, 2009 on Nature Sounds. In closing, it's damn near impossible to convince anyone of a person's influence and accomplishments if they weren't there to witness it first hand. If B.Dot was aware of Dilla at least since 2000/1 and said he was overrated I wouldn't have even given it a second thought. Since he didn't and did late research then came to that conclusion I had to let him know/suggested that he needed to ask some prominent producers exactly why Dilla is so revered. No stans, zealots nor vultures need apply this time.