Editor’s Note: Our recurring “Portrait of the Artist” playlist series pays homage to the artists responsible for the most inspired and indispensable discographies of all time. We hope you enjoy these tributes, and stay tuned for many more to come.
In recent days, we’ve had much to celebrate with respect to James “J Dilla” Yancey’s unparalleled musical legacy. This past Sunday marked what would have been Dilla’s 42nd birthday, as well as the 10th anniversary of the release of his instrumental hip-hop masterpiece, Donuts.
Today represents ten years since Dilla passed away at the way-too-early age of 32, and to celebrate his life in music, we’ve compiled a collection of many of his essential recordings. Clocking in at over 80 tracks and 5 hours, our inaugural “Portrait of the Artist” playlist features a dynamic dose of Dilla’s expertly crafted solo tracks and his memorable arrangements for Slum Village.
Also weaved throughout the playlist are Dilla's classic productions and remixes for the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu, Bilal, Brand New Heavies, Busta Rhymes, Common, The Pharcyde, Q-Tip, and many more. The mix concludes with Robert Glasper’s piano-blessed tributes “J Dillalude” and “Dillalude #2” for good measure. (Note that Dilla’s collaborations with De La Soul are not available for streaming, so we’ve included a few videos at bottom.)
Stream the playlist below, and join us in honoring J Dilla today and every day. And be sure to follow Albumism on Spotify here to be the first to discover future playlists.