This song is perfectly perfect. After umpteen listens, I cannot find a single thing wrong with it. Everything is on point.
I’ve been digging into Erykah Badu‘s discography since returning for Winter Break and I can’t stop listening. I’m obsessed to the extent that it’s hard to listen to anything else without itching to return to the smooth, absorbing music that describes Badu’s essence. She has such a grasping voice and a vibe you can’t refuse. With J Dilla producing a beat for her, nothing could be better. Dilla takes a more modest, less experimental, jazzy approach when working with Badu. I’ve come to appreciate more and more Dilla’s ability and willingness to adapt to the style of music the artist he is working with employs.
Erykah Badu delivers some incredibly interesting inside information about what it was like to create with Jay Dee. If you’re a Dilla fan this monologue, as she talks about “Didn’t Cha Know“, will be fairly fascinating:
“I went to Detroit to work with this cat that I heard a few tracks from that drove me crazy. Common took me over there, we went down to the basement, Common left and Dilla and I sat and talked. He had records wall to wall like it was a public library and he goes, “OK, I want you to look for a record.” I’m looking through these organized, tightly packed crates, and I just pulled out one record and the artist was Tarika Blue. I liked that name. I put on the first track [“Dreamflower”] and I fell in love with the song and I kept playing it over and over again and I said, “I want this.” He showed me how to loop a small part of the bassline, he was very generous in teaching you and letting you be hands on. Then I left the room and when I came back he had looped some drums to a small sample of the song and I started to write to it. I came up with the Ooooh, heeeey melody. I wrote for a few days and then the song came to be. I’d hike down to his house in mittens and a scarf. I just kind of stayed down there and worked until we got the things the way that I liked.
My songs sound different from everyone else’s Dilla songs. The sound is a little bit more bass heavy and the frequencies are definitely different than most of the songs he does, because it’s his world. But when he allowed me to come into his world, it became another kind of world. I think he allowed everybody that kind of space and that kind of freedom because he was so super creative that he would go onto something else while we learned the first part. He was ultraviolet, cosmic, dark. He went to aeronautics school so of course he was a mad scientist mathematician. I don’t know, you can’t really dissect what he was.”
You can read more Dilla stories at The Fader
If this track is particularly familiar to you but not because you know this song, it is likely because J. Cole heavily sampled it in his song “Too Deep For The Intro” from his mixtape Friday Night Lights. Until I made the fairly obvious connection between the two, I had never considered what a J. Cole – J Dilla collaboration would sound like, but “Too Deep For The Intro” is a great song and that is with Cole using one of Dilla’s chiller beats. J. Cole can handle much more upbeat vibes. I’d imagine they could come up with a creative duo name like Cilla Js, or something, too.