Borahm Lee Shares His Love For J Dilla Ahead Of Brooklyn Comes Alive Tribute Jam

first_img“We are going to present a showcase of his music, and the philosophies behind his music.” Borahm LeeLed by Break Science’s Borahm Lee, the J Dilla tribute at Brooklyn Comes Alive will explore the annals of a man who is considered among the greatest producers in hip-hop history. The session will include a nuclear-equipped squad well versed in the school of Dilla dawg. Collaborators include drummer Adam Deitch (Lettuce/Break Science), guitarist Adam Smirnoff (Lettuce), bassist Nate Edgar (The Nth Power), bassist Stu Brooks (Matisyahu, 50 Cent, Pretty Lights), Maurice Brown (Tedeschi Trucks Band) and Chauncey Yearwood (High & Might Brass Band). Visionary hip-hop producer J Dilla did not find huge mainstream success during his brief time on Earth. Yet in the decade since his death, Dilla has come to represent a major influence on hip-hop and electronic music’s DNA. His apex was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when he created mind-bending music that sounded insanely original, and employed studio tactics that didn’t seem possible. Dilla teased with textures and perfected drum tones. He reimagined the art of the sample, making it malleable instead of rigid. He also blessed the culture with an emotional quotient inside of the bombastic boom bap, a structure that had informed the golden era of hip hop. Dilla broke the mold and stepped into the future.“In the spirit of dub greats like Lee Scratch Perry, and King Tubby, Dilla put the music upfront, so it could carry itself without the rapper, the music itself was potent enough on it’s own. His music can make you go in to a trance, like the dub styles.  It’s so modular, heady, and psychedelic too. There is a hypnotizing quality. But the beats are hard!” Borahm LeeDilla’s imprint is felt far beyond hip-hop: In recent years, the artist formerly known as Jay Dee has left a long shadow over modern jazz and funk. He’s never belonged to the jam band community per se, but since his passing in 2006 from a rare blood disease, his legacy has helped this scene incorporate elements of hip hop and electronica, such as Portland, Maine’s Jaw Gems, or Break Science, Lee’s future-music duo with drummer/producer wunderkind Adam Deitch.“The man is a movement, he was completely ahead of his time, even more so posthumously. He made so much music, even though he lived such a short life. It’s crazy, yet it’s so tragic. A lot of other legendary artists died far too young too, like Jimi Hendrix or Charlie Parker. I put Dilla right there in that category of artists.” Borahm LeeSo what sets Dilla apart? Why has his creativity, artistic vision and virtuosity proved so captivating to the jam band crowd?For one, Dilla was a sort of human musical encyclopedia. In his studio, he stored and collected thousands of vinyl records, many of them jazz and funk, into specific sections and kept them alphabetized so that he could cue up the perfect sample right when the inspiration struck. He didn’t just rely on his gigantic record collection, either. He was always ready to pick up a guitar or a bass, or sit down behind the drum kit, or tickle on some chords on the keyboard. This type of dedication to minutia, and multi-instrumentalism speaks to the jamband community.Dilla would manically mine clips from albums just for the timbre of a single note, or the crackling textures of vinyl, or the boom-bap of a kick/snare hit. There was Dilla’s approach to lacing up the rhythms of those legendary drumbeats. Many beat-makers use a method known as quantizing, which lets you perfectly subdivide electric drum-machine sounds into positions within a measure. The pattern can repeat itself, known as a “loop.” Dilla instead most often chose to play beats on a drum machine, creating them by hand in real time. That offered him a chance to color his beats and rhythms with a signature drunken monkey style: jazzy, grooving, laid back and landing just behind the beat.“His whole philosophy, from the sounds of his drums, to the rhythmic theories, to the placement and dissection of samples, he did so much to influence the musicians of his day, and especially today. Look at bands like Lettuce or producers like Taylor McFerrin, who’s one of my favorites, and of course a Flying Lotus too. His influence spreads like Bob Marley’s did to reggae music, changes people’s perspective from hip-hop to electronic, and in between, the people know J Dilla.“One can only imagine what this super group of hip-hop and electronic players will cook up for this next installment of Borahm Lee’s tribute to J Dilla, coming up at Brooklyn Comes Alive.Check out three of Borahm Lee’s favorite Dilla deep cuts, below.last_img read more