Appreciation For J Dilla’s The King of Beats, Vol. 1

Hip-Hop Recording Artist and Drummer for the Jimmy Fallon show, Questlove, exclaimed in an interview how scrupulous J Dilla would slice up samples and stitch together a cohesive beat.

In an interview held at Red Bull Music Academy, Questlove would enunciate Dilla’s technique on taking every microscopic second of a song that didn’t contain any words, then chop them so precisely to the point where these multiple chops would sound like a basic loop.

Video uploaded by Red Bull Music Academy (YouTube)

Musicians recalled similar stories when they worked with Dilla. A good reason why his name is embroidered in gold is that of the deductive tampering he would do to such samples.

Dilla was commercially successful through singles such as The Light With Chicago Rapper Common, as well as the supporting the production for the works of A Tribe Called Quest and Tha Pharcyde.

After his death in 2006, an onslaught of discovered music and unreleased beat tapes poured through various representative labels. Year after year, a new compilation of Dilla’s original works, and reworked music came about in major streaming platforms, most prominently on Spotify.


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Released in 2015, The King of Beats, Vol. 1 contains much of his work that fans have already heard of. This is an underappreciated grouping of Dilla’s past work, much of them being the latent form of its final result, much of them unreleased, and much of them the deservedly added works that Dilla has been commercially viable for.

Also separated into four separate volumes, The King of Beats holds together all thirty-eight tracks that the four separate batches contain.

This compilation holds together the instrumentals that Dilla quietly submerged his entrancement into. The short, hushed soulful sounds that play in the background of rumination is the overall procedure of the album.

Dilla has been recalled as a Jazz musician as well. The instrumental capability of chopping up legendary samples, reworking them with his own spirited textures amalgams to pure, resonating music, as what Jazz typically does.


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The prime instrumental tracks that exemplify this are tracks 24, 27, 28, 29, and 30, a few of my preferred tracks. These instrumentals are deeply subversive. They hold samples that generate so much of Dilla’s soul into these.

Track 30 is a minute and a half long but holds so much grip to the listener’s intuitive trance. The repeated loop of the piano sample wrapped with a methodological MPC pattern develops into a purely resonating beat.

Track 28 is an eerily enveloped track on the surface, but further understating Dilla’s technique after years of being exposed to his material, it may be one of the more underappreciated and beautiful beats he’s constructed. The synth chords undulate alongside the pounding drums and snares, overall making a soulful demonstration of innate thoughtfulness.


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J Dilla is recognized as Hip-Hop’s producing martyr. His level of technical ability, as well as the monomaniac obsession he’s had over collecting records and working on them,  validates that recognition.

The King of Beats, Vol. 1 is an essential listen for those who are familiar with his sound, and more importantly, for those who want to understand the core impact he’s had on music.


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