STRAIGHT NO CHASER MAGAZINE REVIEWS THE KING JAMES VERSION...
Current mood: awake
V/A – HOUSE SHOES PRESENTS CHAPTER 1: VERSES 1-5
On 10 February it will be the third anniversary of the death of James 'J Dilla' Yancey, arguably the greatest and most influential hip hop producer of all time. Many fans and artists have paid tribute in their own way – from street murals to instrumental odes to blogged eulogies. Each with varying degrees of impact but all invested with the utmost admiration and respect.
In terms of mixes, J Rocc's 'Thank You Jay Dee' series set a remarkable benchmark in splicing, dicing and juggling rare beats and tracks from Dilla's fathomless catalogue. However, given Dilla's legendary sample sense, it was surprising that no one had attempted to compile and blend some of his biggest and most diverse inspirations.
As The Roots' Black Thought remarked in the wake of DIlla's passing, "I met James Yancey in 1994 at Battery Studios, NYC. From that day, he's never ceased to amaze me with his vast knowledge of good music and his knack for manipulating sounds and making them his own. I am an MC. I've been doing what I do for a long time. I've sat in many a basement, studio, tour bus and living room, watching and waiting as beats were being conceived for me to rock and I can honestly say I've never seen anyone with a better understanding of sampling and reinventing sound."
Thankfully, Detroit spinner DJ Shoes – the Motor City tastemaker who released the sought-after Jay Dee Unreleased EP and Phat Kat's classic 'Dedication to the Suckers' 12" back in the day – has addressed that, releasing a five-part mix, crafted from original and patiently amassed vinyl at the home of Rhettmatic of World Famous Beat Junkies. And it's a product of sincere and reverent endeavour. The biblical sleeve reads: "Herein is preserved the inspiration of the king, that his followers may behold and be strengthened in it.
It's a record like this that not only highlights the extraordinary breadth of sample material that Dilla drew from (which other producer would think to sample Joe Zawinul, Joe Pass and Jamiroquai?) It also illustrates how the sample became more than a motif or desperate hook for the listener. Dilla made new compositions from fragments of others' emotions. Case in point is The Pharcyde's 'Runnin'. I mean, how deft can you be with Stan Getz Jazz Samba Encore's 'Saudade Ven Correndo' when you're also working with Run DMC's 'Rock Box', just for a second? [By the way, it's worth reading about how the mix down of that track brought Fat Lip and Slimkid to blows – the creative struggle.]
So everyone has their favourite Dilla track. Everyone has their favourite sample. And the two may be mutually exclusive. Sufficed to say that each chapter of this mix is impeccably mixed and sequenced to incorporate such obscure Dilla DNA as Neil Innes & Son's 'Cum on Feel the Noize' (used for 'Wild'), Gap Mangione's 'Diana in the Autumn Wind' (used for 'The Official), The Cyrkle's 'The Visit', Cris Williamson's 'Shine On Straight Arrow' (used for 'The Red'), 'The Look of Love' by Barney Kessel (used for SV's track of the same name), Tony Allen's 'Asiko' (used for Common's 'Time Travellin'), I could go on…
You need this disc. And as the name suggests, there will be other installments from Shoes. The rise of Jay Dee in the lawless 'samplefest' of the nineties foretold his majesty. Dilla's 'Donuts' raised interest in his sources to unprecedented levels. Now 'King James Version' preserves Dilla's legacy into 2009, inspiring us to listen widely, without prejudice and behind the beat. (Amar Patel)
AMAR'S FAVOURITE DILLA SAMPLES
1. AHMAD JAMAL – SWAHILILAND
2. RENE COSTY – SCRABBLE
3. THE SYLVERS – ONLY ONE CAN WIN
4. GAP MANGIONE – DIANA IN THE AUTUMN WIND
5. SINGERS UNLIMITED – CLAIRE
6. BILLY PAUL – LET THE DOLLAR CIRCULATE
7. KOOL AND THE GANG – FRUIT MAN
8. BOBBY CALDWELL – OPEN YOUR EYES
9. BILL EVANS – ARE YOU ALL THE THINGS
10. THAT SAMPLE FOR THE REMIX OF FOUR TET"S 'AS SERIOUS AS YOUR LIFE'