2.23.2009

A Suite for Ma Dukes

A friend of mine and I had a conversation a little over a year ago that comes to mind every now and then whenever I hear new music. The conversation was fairly brief, but there's one particular line that initially made me laugh, but later on, made me think. As I was cuing up the next track, my friend said: "I'd rather get the instrumental version of an album, instead of the version with lyrics." My first thoughts were, it might be time to break out some coffee and put the cap on the bottle, but then he elaborated by saying "a lot of artists are caught up in the hype and just don't speak to the masses like they use to....basically, they aren't saying anything worth listening to, so I'd rather just hear the beats." I laughed it off, but a couple of days later, found myself listening to the radio (which doesn't happen often) and after hearing the "latest and greatest hits" of the day, decided he might be on to something. A few days later, we picked-up the conversation and since the topic was beats, we ended-up getting into a debate about producers.

For me, my favorite list of producers runs fairly short as I kinda subscribe to the quality over quantity theory. One producer that came to mind during our debate was James Yancey aka J. Dilla. Dilla had a way of using instruments and sounds that no other producer that I've come across could match. From the keys on the Wurlitzer to the snare to the other instruments he used to create his music gumbo, the songs he laced with his magic just seemed to come alive. A J. Dilla doesn't come around very often, so when you hear his work, you have to give proper respect. The man was a true artist in every sense of the word and unfortunately was taken away from us much too soon.

Fortunately, Dilla had an impact not only on the most ardent hip-hop fan, but also on other artists which leads to the 2 videos below. The first one was taken at a live performance of A Suite for Ma Dukes last night. For those of you haven't heard, A Suite for Ma Dukes is an EP put together by Carlos Nino and Miguel Atwood Ferguson consisting of orchestral interpretations of some of Dilla's best work. It's currently available on iTunes, but won't be available in stores until April. Anyway, quite a few guests showed-up to help make the performance a sucess. The clip below shows Talib, Posdunos, and Illa J (J's brother) performing along with the orchestra. The second video is that of Ferguson and his quartet putting it down in the studio performing "Fall In Love."

One word describes Dilla and his music: genius. If you haven't had a chance yet, get yourself some Nag Champa, light it up, sit back and enjoy. You'll be glad you did.






A Suite for Ma Dukes tracklisting

1. Antiquity
2. Nag Champa
3. Find a Way
4. Fall In Love

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