News: SOHH's Favorite J Dilla Beats

Thursday, Feb 10, 2011 10:40AM

Written by SOHH

As today marks the fifth anniversary of the passing of legendary beatsmith J Dilla, SOHH provides a list of our favorite (but not limited to) Jay Dee-produced instrumentals and tracks, as well as a few of the freestyles he inspired.

1. "So Far To Go"

Common (SOHH's Favorite J Dilla Beats)

The 2006 Shining album features extensive sampling from horror movie The Shining. A few of the tracks on The Shining are vocal versions of previously heard material such as "So Far to Go" (Donuts track "Bye" revamped and extended to serve as an intended remix to Common's "Go!"). This song was originally to be released by Common during the last quarter of 2005, as part of a Be special edition package. In 2007, an alternate version of "So Far to Go" containing new verses and a new mix was released on Common's Finding Forever album. (Wikipedia)

Dilla has always been known for his soul-stirring instrumentals, and his use of the Isley Brother's bedroom ballad "Don't Say Goodnight" allow Common to sensually proclaim his affection for a woman on wax (with crooner D'Angelo's assistance, of course).


2. "Vivrant Thing"

A Tribe Called Quest (SOHH's Favorite J Dilla Beats)

"Vivrant Thing" is the first single released by Q-Tip on his debut solo album Amplified. The song is also featured in A Tribe Called Quest's 1999 compilation The Anthology. It was produced by Q-Tip himself, although Jay Dee was also in the credits (they were a production duo).The beat contains a sample of "I Wanna Stay" by the Love Unlimited Orchestra. (Moovmnt)

Dilla produced a beat for Q-Tip that was so fly, only a made-up term could describe it.

3. "Two Can Win"

Skyzoo (SOHH's Favorite J Dilla Beats)

"Two Can Win" is J Dilla's sampled verse of The Sylvers' "Only One Can Win." Rapper Termanology also recorded a track titled, "Only One Can Win" using J. Dilla's track "Two Can Win." The song is a tale about a man choosing between rap and a woman. He pays respect to Dilla in the beginning of the song. Rapper Skyzoo has recorded tribute tracks using "Two Can Win" and "Last Donut," among others. (Wikipedia)

Apparently two can win, as burgeoning emcees Skyzoo and Termanology both demonstrate their lyricism over this Jay Dee gem.

4. "Runnin'"

The Pharcyde (SOHH's Favorite J Dilla Beats)

Runnin' is a song performed by The Pharcyde and produced by J Dilla. It was released as the first single from The Pharcyde's second album Labcabincalifornia in 1995. The song samples popular jazz artist Stan Getz's "Saudade Vem Correndo", from his 1963 album "Jazz Samba Encore". The sample loops a small section of the track's bridge, layering on additions from other sections of Getz' song (such as Getz' sax solo parts). (Wikipedia)

Mr. Yancey got in touch with his jazzy instincts to create this runaway hip-hop classic.


5. "Find My Way"

A Tribe Called Quest (SOHH's Favorite J Dilla Beats)

"Find a Way" is the first single by A Tribe Called Quest, from their fifth and final album The Love Movement. The song samples "Technova" by Towa Tei. The New York Times' Ben Ratliff wrote that the song "innocently wonders about the point at which friendship spills over into sex." (New York Times)

Another Dilla gem that makes you vibe out to Tip and Phife's flow- and makes you forget that the single represents the crew's penultimate swan song...well, almost makes you forget.


6. "The Light"

Common (SOHH's Favorite J Dilla Beats)

"The Light" is the Grammy-nominated second single off Common's 2000 album Like Water for Chocolate. It is produced by Jay Dee and features keyboards performed by James Poyser. It samples "Open Your Eyes" as performed by Bobby Caldwell and the drums from "You're Getting a Little too Smart" by The Detroit Emeralds. (Pop Matters)

Not only did Common gain a Grammy nod for "The Light", the Dilla-assisted love anthem may have been responsible for the Chi-city spitter's catapult into heartthrob status.


7. "Time" (Donut Of The Heart)

Drake & Black Thought (SOHH's Favorite J Dilla Beats)

After Dilla's passing, The Roots used "Time: The Donut of the Heart" for their J Dilla tribute "Can't Stop This" on the album Game Theory. "Time: The Donut of the Heart samples The Jackson 5's "All I Do Is Think Of You" (Metacritic)

Jay Dee used one of one of The Jackson 5's noted ballads to create his sentimental track for his 2006 LP, Donuts. The Roots and Drake offered their own separate takes on the beat; while the Young Money star opted to chase an exotic female via sound waves, the renowned hip-hop crew pay homage to their dearly departed friend on his own beat.


8. "Lightworks"

Talib Kweli & Q-Tip (SOHH's Favorite J Dilla Beats)

"Lightworks" was used for the "B-Ball Zombie War" track "Lightworking," which features Talib Kweli and Q-Tip." It samples Raymond Scott's "Lightworks." (Wikipedia)

Getting Kweli and Q-Tip to bring their crazy energy to this extra-terrestrial instrumental was, in fact, light work.


9. "House of Flying Daggers"

Raekwon (SOHH's Favorite J Dilla Beats)

"House of Flying Daggers" First Verse: Inspectah Deck Second Verse: Raekwon THird Verse: Ghostface Killah Fourth Verse: Method Man Chorus: GZA. Produced by J Dilla. Features a sample from Four Tops' "Elanor Rigby" (Wikipedia)

The Chef knew he was cooking up a recipe for a crazy Wu collabo when he tapped a previously-produced Dilla instrumental for his OBFCL2 single.


10. "Gobstopper"

Jay Electronica (SOHH's Favorite J Dilla Beats)

Busta Rhymes and Rah Digga used "Gobstopper" and "Last Donut of the Night" as beats for "Just Another Day at the Range" and "Best That Ever Did It." Rapper Big Pooh had used "Gobstopper" for a track titled "Plastic Cups" he also used "One Eleven" for a track with the same name featuring O-Dash on a mixtape with Mick Boogie. Rapper Jay Electronica used "Gobstopper" for his track "Abracadabra" and several other Dilla beats for various tracks of his Victory mixtape. (Wikipedia)

Well before his magic show-themed Roc Nation inauguration, Jay-E tricked out this Jay Dee treat like a wizard.



James Dewitt Yancey, February 7, 1974- February 10, 2006.  Rest In Beats, J. Dilla.

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