Month: February 2012

Robert Glasper – Black Radio (Album) (2012)

Robert Glasper etches the future of music through a multitude of classic and contemporary sounds on his newest release, Black Radio.

Esperanza Spalding – Black Gold (Video) (2012)

After her stunning Oscar performance, we take a look at Esperanza Spalding’s anthemic lead single, “Black Gold”

Rhodes Scholars: 10 Fender Rhodes Songs You Need to Hear

The title says it all, as Brother Hayling gives us 10 Rhodes songs that we MUST hear, as well as audio examples so you can see why these songs are a must for your audio memory bank.

The Robert Glasper Experiment – Smells Like Teen Spirit (Live) (2012)

The Robert Glasper Experiment pays homage to one of music’s most influential voices.

Cal Tjader Quintet – Manhã de Carnaval / Guachi Guara (Video) (Circa 1965)

A rare look at the master of the Latin Vibraphone, Mr. Cal Tjader…and he brought a magnificent cast with him.

Wes Montgomery – ‘Round Midnight (Video) (Circa 1960)

This video is an excellent window into a previous era, watching one of the greatest guitarists to ever pick up the instrument.

Dilla says “TURN IT UP” (DET 2 LA) – Mixed by DJ Haylow (2007)

As a follow-up to James Yancey Productions, DJ Haylow gives us more Dilla to enjoy in this 2007 recording.

Ahmad Jamal / Jay Dee / De La Soul – Swahililand / Stakes is High (1974/1996)

When you examine the combination of Ahmad Jamal, Jay Dee, and De La Soul, the perfect mesh that was created is undeniable.

J Dilla – Vol. 2: Vintage (2003)

A sampling of J Dilla’s work from the mid to late 90s, this compilation features some of the most underrated compositions of an already illustrious songbook.

BrotherSpanky – The James Yancey Sessions

On what has come to be known as Dilla Day, multi-instrumentalist/producer BrotherSpanky has unveiled his tribute to the late genius: a self-released project entitled The James Yancey Sessions. One of the most talented musicians working in the DC area, Spanky shows off his chops on the drums, keys, bass, and guitar among other instruments on this tour de force. (Full disclosure: I had an opportunity to watch some of this mastery at work as I had a hand in mixing the project.)

Informed by Soulquarian sensibilities, he includes the signature organic timing, complex chord voicings, and overall warmth that many of us remember the album’s namesake for. As he takes Dil Withers fans on a walk through memory lane, Spanky sings and raps on a number of familiar covers while opting to let a few breathe as instrumentals.

As if recreating this vibe weren’t enough, he completed the 14 track labor of love without the aid of any samples, loops or punch-ins. Of note, he also includes a few nods to the Dilla die-hards, as his lyrics borrow from the rhythmic and rhyming structure of Dilla’s original compositions. In a week that’s sure to see its share of dedications, tributes and retrospectives, BrotherSpanky delivers a unique offering that would surely make Brother Yancey proud.
(Written by: @BrotherHayling

From BrotherSpanky:
Influenced by projects like The Roots’ “Dilla Joints” and Elzhi’s “ElMatic,” I decided that the best way to show tribute to my favorite producer of all time was to put together an album of some of my favorite J Dilla compositions, reworking some of the lyrics and re-recording each track straight through, using live instrumentation which I would play myself, by hand — no samples, no loops, and no punch-ins.

RIP James Yancey (1974 – 2006)

Listen to the full project below, and you can purchase the project on his BandCamp Page, and you can follow him on twitter (@brother_spanky), as well as visit his website (

James Yancey Productions – Mixed by DJ Haylow (Download) (2005)

I have always liked Dilla.

I liked him before his listeners became fans, and his fans became stans, and the stans became a cult. Like everyone, I bashed the Pharcyde‘s LabCabinCalifornia album when it came out. “It’s not like the first one”, I thought as a juvenile Hip Hop head. Like everyone, I thought Tribe Called Quest‘s Love Movement album was too soft. “Yeah, a couple songs are cool, but that’s not Tribe!” In retrospect, I wasn’t ready for Jay Dee. He was ahead of his time, and ahead of the game. He created a sound that became a blue print for neo soul, Hip Hop, and many other sub genres for years to come. These artists that were rhyming over Jay Dee beats weren’t falling off, they were visionaries, just like Jay Dee was. After his untimely passing in February 2006, February has become honorary Dilla Month amongst the Hip Hop elite, and every year, the legend of Dilla grows stronger than the year previous, as he is remembered as the greatest beat maker of all time.

In 2005, I bought a iMac. I wasn’t too sure what you could do with it, but all I knew is that I wanted to make a CD mixtape, and I knew that with this big, white, spaceship-looking thing, I could do just that. I had made dozens of mixtapes before that, but tapes were well on their way out, and I knew I had to adjust my methods of DJing. Keep in mind, this may not predate Serato (digital DJing), but it definitely preceded Serato as the industry standard it is now. I didn’t even have internet at my house at the time, my $1,800 machine was being used strictly for music. The iMac was the first generation iMac, and it was also the first computer I ever owned, and it, similar to Dilla, changed my life.

I bought my computer in June of 2005, and the first thing I did on it was build up my iTunes and rip my vinyl…and eventually recorded mixes through Garage Band, a stock iMac program that is usually scoffed at by Pro Tools users and audio buffs. The first mix I ever recorded was entitled The Love Movement, which was a promotional mix for an event that D2S (my crew) was hosting at the time. The soulful/Hip Hop mix was handed out to friends and such, and was well received…and I was satisfied with it. I needed an encore. Something that would stick with music heads. Yeah, I can make a mix of the records that I got from my record pool, have it circulate for a few months, only to become stale when people got tired of hearing the songs after they’ve run their course. Then I thought, ‘I can do a Just Blaze mix!’ Just Blaze, is DOPE, but did I want a mixtape full of supercharged, NYC themed, Rocafella anthems? eh, not really…

Then I thought of the one who has the most amount of versatility…the one who as the perfect combination of rough and smooth…the one who has worked with all of my favorite emcees…the one who has (at that point) nearly a decade of work.. *I look through my crates* damn, I got a lot of Dilla records, too…Common, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, the Blue Remix Vinyl, Que-D, Phat Kat, Slum Village, and of course the new Jaylib heat..

…and then I was fortunate to interview N*E*R*D around the same time for a D2S episode, and during one of Pharrell‘s rants, he calls J Dilla The Beat King of All Time

Yep, it’s settled. I’m going to make a J Dilla Mix.

In August-September 2005, I spent hours recording the Dilla Mix, and learning the iMac at the same time. After I had the final product, I would duplicate copy after copy from the CD burner, and hand them out to friends I would see while out in the streets. I burned hundreds. This was before the popularity of file sharing sites. I mailed them out. I left them in stores. I felt it was a good representation of the Dilla’s body of work, and it was a lesson in what legendary beat making is, and the music had to be spread. The mix was simply titled James Yancey Productions

The mix tapes official release was shortly after his passing in February 2006. Prince Aries blessed the audio with a beautiful graphic representation that you see here. Feel free to download James Yancey Productions, mixed by myself, DJ Haylow, for it is a way to pay homage to the late great beat making legend as we celebrate his birthday.

Thank you, Jay Dee.

[download id=”2″]

1. Erykah Badu ~ Clever / Pharrell’s “Cool” Intro
2. Hev D. f/ Q-Tip ~ Just Listen
3. Phife Dawg/Tribe Called Quest ~ His Name is Mutty Ranks
4. Busta Rhymes ~ Woo Haa (remixes)
5. Slum Village ~ Fall in Love
6. Slum Village ~ Fall in Love (remix)
7. Phat Kat ~ Destiny
8. Common ~ Nag Champa
9. Frank-n-Dank f/ Tammy Lucas ~ Ma Dukes
10. Slum Village ~ Get This Money
11. Que-D f/ Jay Dee ~ Supa Shit
12. Q-Tip ~ Things You Do
13. De La Soul ~ Stakes is High (remix)
14. De La Soul ~ Stakes is High
15. Phat Kat f/ J. Dilla & Black Milk ~ Door
16. J. Dilla ~ Reckless Driving
17. Frank-N-Dank ~ MCA
18. MadLib/JayLib ~ The Red
19. Slum Village ~ Look of Love
20. J. Dilla ~ F*ck The Police
21. Phat Kat ~ Don’t Nobody Care About Us
22. Frank-N-Dank ~ Pimp Strut 22. J. Dilla ~ Crushin’
23. Cool Outro

Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes – Astral Traveling (1973)

Lonnie Liston Smith’s one of a kind sound shines through on his first recording with The Cosmic Echoes entitled “Astral Traveling”.