Tomorrow, February 7, the world unites in veneration of the life, love, and legacy of the late-great James “J Dilla” Yancey, on what would have been the legendary producer’s 42nd birthday. Arguably the most universally adored work across his prolific discography and released just three days before his untimely passing on February 10, 2006, Dilla’s instrumental hip-hop masterpiece Donuts also celebrates its tenth anniversary tomorrow.
As the Albumism team reflects upon what Dilla and his music means to us, we had good reason to revisit director Brian "B. Kyle" Atkins’ phenomenal cinematic tribute to the sonic mastermind. Filmed shortly after Dilla’s death and officially released five years ago tomorrow, the poignant Still Shining offers unique perspective into his creative passions and hyper-dedicated approach to songcraft. Atkins explains that his short film is intended “for the J Dilla fans that already understood his presence in music at the time he passed away, and those who continue to seek material about him to rejuvenate their support.”
In addition to rare interview footage of Dilla himself, the film opens with heartfelt commentary from his mother, Maureen Yancey, and features exclusive interviews with an impressive crop of Dilla’s kindred musical spirits. Erykah Badu, Bilal, Common, Dwele, James Poyser, Karriem Riggins, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, and Questlove are among those that we hear from across the film’s nearly forty minutes.
Whether you’ve already seen Still Shining or are discovering it for the first time, we hope you enjoy this fantastic portrait of one of our most beloved musical heroes. Watch the full film below, and check out a few additional short film tributes, including Fuse TV’s Crate Diggers: J Dilla, which includes a tour of Dilla’s exhaustive LP collection, and the Stussy sponsored J Dilla Documentary.