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
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)