Monday, February 7, 2011
Since Day One....
It's no surprise to anyone who knows me, and it's no surprise to anyone who only "knows me" through the music I spin. My ears perked up at the sound of "Wordplay" back in 1996. I remember thinking that THIS was the kind of music I'd been waiting to hear. A perfect blend of the rough and the smooth.
I kept my eyes open for more "produced by Jay Dee for THE UMMAH" credits. This was before the internet was really popping off, so lots of my early Jay Dee discoveries were complete surprises.
The Pharcyde - "Drop"
I LOVED this video but I had no idea who made the beat. Didn't get my hands on the album until a couple years later. Yep.....Jay Dee. His work on that LP was phenomenal.
De La Soul - "Stakes Is High"
Bought this album IMMEDIATELY and just nodded my head when I saw the production credits. Of COURSE it was him on the title track.
Busta Rhymes - "Woo Hah!" (The Jay Dee Other Shit Remix)
My mom wouldn't let me get the "Woo Hah" CD single in 96 because it had the dreaded Parental Advisory sticker on it. I was pissed because I saw that there were TWO Jay Dee remixes on there, and I told her as much while we were in the store. She took a look at the back, and I guess she assumed that my 11-year-old ears really weren't ready for Jay Dee's "Other Shit Remix." I wouldn't get my hands on this until a few years later. It was one of the first 12" singles I ever bought. (I maintain that she would have purchased this for me had the word "shit" not been in the title.)
Janet Jackson - Got 'Til It's Gone (Ummah Jay Dee's Revenge Mix)
I LOVED the original mix because it had the vibe that I was seeking out. "The Jay Dee sound," if you will. I remember being shocked when I saw that the video version was credited to Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who weren't exactly making music like that at the time. My younger brother got the CD single of Janet's "Together Again" around Christmas in 1997, and the bonus track was this beast of a remix. The drums, bass, and spacey sample are pretty much vintage Jay Dee. The "Got 'Til It's Gone" double 12" was another early purchase when I got my first turntable.
A Tribe Called Quest - The Love Movement LP
All my favorite beats on here were produced by Jay Dee. Most of the other tracks kind of sounded like Q-Tip's attempts at 97/98-era Jay Dee. "4 Moms" was my favorite beat on there, with the signature bounce that he had completely perfected by 1998. This album caught a lot of flack, and still does, but I enjoyed it just as much as Beats, Rhymes, & Life, which was my only other exposure to Tribe. (I later understood why people criticized the group's shift in production, but that was only after I immersed myself in ATCQ's first three albums around 2000.)
To make a truly long story short, I knew I had a favorite producer by the time 1998 came to a close. It was James Yancey and he went on to influence an entire era of urban music. I miss that guy all the time, and I pay tribute to his music in nearly every set that I spin. While many of his newer fans definitely jumped on the bandwagon after his untimely death, I'm grateful that his work has spread and his legacy has been cemented.
R.I.P. to the GREATEST.