Thoughts on Dilla Fandom

The below comment on the recently posted Questlove Dilla tribute mix provoked the following thought from yours truly.

hiphopdepot said:
Is it just me or is the whole Dilla thing played out?? I thought it was played out almost instantly.. I'm not trying to hate on him, but it seems like everyone and their mother tried to claim some type of allegiance to him as a way to get props or something.. I'll be honest,, I didn't even know the name before he died.. I was like "oh he produced Runnin and Drop?".. Then it was "Dilla changed my life" and every suburban kid with an mpc1000 is influenced by Dillas message, lol... His shits cool, but damn.. Just seems like a fad, which is sad...

Pipo's Thoughts:
Yes and no. First, I'm not sure how old you are, but if u didn't know of dilla before he died u were either sleeping heavily, or u weren't reading album credits. To your larger point, the dilla fandom does seem a little out of control and like it has become an industry on to itself. There are certainly some out there that have made careers for themselves off of dillas name. However, I do think a lot of the dilla love is coming from a positive place. Most of it comes from an inner-circle who want to make sure his legacy is recognized. Dilla wasn't known like a biggie or 2pac, but his impact on music was arguably greater than those 2 emcees. His crew just wants to make sure the world remembers that. For better or worse, they've done an excellent job at that. As annoying of a trend as it may be at times, I consider having an 18 year old student asking me about dilla to be a positive thing. Just think of how much great music dillas legacy exposes them to (tribe, common, roots, madlib, pharcyde, sv, busta, dangelo, etc..)

8 comments:

thehiphopdepot said...

Hell yeah!! I got some Pipo shine time, lol.. Thanks for the response.. I'm 33, been listening to Hip-Hop since the mid 80's, still dig (yes, vinyl), support real, good music.. I do admit, I didn't know the name Dilla till he started doing stuff with Stones Throw before his death. I had heard and liked the stuff he did with Tribe, Pharcyde and Slum Village, I just didn't know exactly who was behind the boards. (Can't remember every name I read on an album credit).. I like his stuff a lot, I just can't stand when bandwagon people jump on anything, especially when it gets to such a huge number of hangers-on like the Dilla phenomenon.. I'm down for an 18 year old asking about and gaining knowledge on someone, i'm just not down with the 18 year old wearing a "Dilla changed my life" shirt when he doesn't even know who he is or what he did.. Maybe it's because i'm a SoCal transplant in NorCal (home of the biggest bandwagon fans on earth, yes, I said it) and my annoyance for people like that has peaked.. I don't know about his impact on music being greater than Biggie or Pac (2 more names I have the same issue with to an even greater extent), although I wish his impact was greater since his music is better and light years ahead on a number of levels... To each his own though.. Now that I have a son I need to get the hate out so it doesn't carry over to him,, guess me commenting was an example, lol... Thanks for the reply though,, love the site and check in daily. peace

pipomixes said...

thanks for your comment hiphopdepot. I hope you didn't take my reply to be an attack on your comment. Your comment just got me to think a little more about the topic. I agree with most of what you said. The great irony of all the acclaim that Dilla has received the last few years is that many held him responsible for "ruining" Tribe and Common. Years later, we can all say that Dilla (and to a large part Tribe and Common) were ahead of their time, but dude took a lot of flack for being behind Tribe's Beats, Rhymes, & Life and Love Movement albums as well as Common's LWFC and Electric Circus.

Anonymous said...

Good post. I always thought of Dilla as being big time and didn't realise that he wasn't that well known until he passed away. When The Jaylib collabo was first being talked about I was surprised that jay dee was going to work with someone as underground madlib. I thought it was an odd pairing. I think his name had something to do with him not being known. There's two or three other jay dee's plus the tribe stuff only said the ummah. It wasn't obvious who or what the ummah was. At the time i remember looking at the credits for beats rhymes and life and labcabincalifornia and noticing that the name j yancey was on both. And then he changed to j dilla to confuse things.

Anonymous said...

That last comment was from dj Hudson - I was having issues putting my name on it

JAH WISE EQUALITY said...

YES PIPO... GOOD POST I KINDA FELT LIKE I WAS THE ONLY ONE POSTING DILLA TRIBUTES ON FACEBOOK THIS MONTH,THERE ARE TONES OF TRIBUTE MIXES AND BEATS OUT THERE,SOME OF ITS REAL GOOD AND THEN AGAIN SOME OF ITS TRASH, BUT I DONT CARE WHAT NO ONE SAYS, FOR ME THIS WILL ALWAYS BE KNOWN AS DILLA HISTORY MONTH.
NOW IM ABOUT TO GO POST SOME MORE DILLA ON FACEBOOK LOL!

Anonymous said...

Dilla's impact on hip isnt anywhere close to that of BIG or Pac. He was a very good producer who made some memorable songs and that's about it. He advanced the artform, but not by leaps and bounds. Had he not died, there would not be anywhere near the current level of hysteria. I'm not hating on Dilla. I enjoyed his music, but let's be honest here. These "Dilla Changed My Life" kids are mostly dickriders who hopped on a trend and aren't really into his music. It's just a popular slogan like "Where's The Beef." And on the real, Donuts is super boring.

Eric Nord said...

Even though Dilla had many styles, his biggest influence on hip hop was his use of somewhat choppy, occasionally offbeat drum patterns. Dilla expanded the "pocket". Prior to the mid-90s, most beatmakers still clung to the traditional style that came from drum break loops and early digital drum sequencing. This new style of drum sequencing, pioneered mostly by Dilla, laid much of the foundation for the Nu Soul and post-trip-hop instrumental styles. I'm not saying that's a good or bad thing ;-). But Dilla changed a lot of people's musical lives. And even though Premo, Pete Rock, or Alchemist might be considered "better"... those guys are still relatively "conventional" in their style.

Personally, I think fandom is great. Why resent someone's enthusiasm or attempt to be cool? Plus, I don't think anyone is going to get many cool points for a "Dilla changed m life" t-shirt (that's a pretty dorky shirt). Most people who wear a shirt like that are probably just excited to discover a big trove of great music, and they want to let others know about it.

sonnyred said...

here's my .02

i agree w/everything pipo said except for the 2pac/biggie claim. people get tats of "thug life" and all that shit. crazy child soldiers rock their shirts. the other thing is that biggie and 2pac had a "brand." they represented a certain lifestyle and value system.

dilla represented detroit; and even then to a limited extent. i lived there and very few people ever heard of him. and besides that, most dope producers rarely get their shine.

which does bring dilla to the spotlight again. it's just a little different i think. wilt chamberlain vs phil jackson. same game but different positions.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME

it's not about whether you got into him before or after his death. the fact is that you're into him and you're celebrating his contributions to the culture. and if new people are getting into it, then even better. it's the equivalent of turning someone onto "real" hip hop or sushi or whatever else is niche but intimate to many.

and i see nothing wrong with wearing dilla changed my life shirts. of course it's hyperbole, but rather than judging it literally, just take it as an homage. of all shirts that honor him, that's the most recognizable and the first to come out.

and why should it matter if someone got into him after he died, anyway? not like young kids don't fall in love with elvis, the beatles or marley on a daily basis.