By Ashley Zimmerman
By Dana Krangel
By John Hood
By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
Outtakes: So I'm told you're a big Kenny G fan.
Pierre: Oh, that's my buddy. He's the best, you know. He's a professional golf player too now.
Oh yeah, everybody knows it. He's the best. He's on top of Tiger Woods now. You heard that? That man is good; he's the best.
What exactly do you like about him?
Exactly what I like about him he can play saxophone good; he's the number one. He plays jazz good; that's why everybody go on about him, because he's the number-one jazz player. He's that good.
Yeah, I guess he's sold more records than any other jazz player.
OK, I'm glad you know that one. Exactly. He's more famous than all of them too, and he got more money than all of them. He's a rich man.
Why's he so popular, you think?
Because he's good at what he does. He plays jazz good.
Tell me three things that make him so good.
What make him so good? They like him because he knows how to play saxophone good. And he's a professional golf player, and he's a very smart man. So everybody like him. All right! And whatever he got, he shares with people. He go everywhere across the water and share everything he got with people. That's why everybody crazy about him.
That's cool. I didn't know that.
Now you know. You gotta give him credit he's the best. You gotta tell him he's the best.
Ever see him live?
I saw him one time. You know where I was? I was in Manhattan. New York, all right? He had a big concert. People cried. Everybody cried. He made everybody cry, you know, big people like him, and people cry like a kid. Water come in my eye too. And then when he play, he make people crazy about him. He good man; he good people. He care about people. Whoever they are, he cares. He's the best.
Well, I've got a, uh, extra copy of this double-disc greatest-hits collection. You can have it if you want it.
Oh Lord! Oh Lord! I sure appreciate that! If I find you, I'll kiss you all over your head.
You have a favorite song? Maybe it's on here...
There's a song called "Magnum" or something like that. One called "Graceful"; that's how he made all that money. He sold more albums than any other jazz player. That's why he's the best. Now you gonna like him, right? He can make you cry too. He good. You listen to him; he good. I'm serious. Water gonna come in your eye too. Jonathan Zwickel
Jay Dee, RIP
On February 10, hip-hop producer J Dilla (a.k.a. Jay Dee, a.k.a. James Yancey) passed away due to complications from a long-standing bout with liver disease. Though he lacked the marquee status of the Neptunes or Timbaland, Dilla leaves behind a catalog that is unparalleled in hip-hop. He produced for A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, D'Angelo, De La Soul, Janet Jackson, and Erykah Badu, collaborated with Madlib, and helped form the seminal Detroit crew Slum Village. His blend of delicate, jazz-inflected melodies and shuffling, off-tempo drum lines provided a sonic template for an entire generation of beatsmiths.
Dilla began his career at a young age in Detroit. When Slum Village formed in 1988, he was all of 15 years old. While still in junior high, Dilla ascended the Motor City's underground hip-hop ranks. And though he was a local phenom, most wouldn't hear his work until A Tribe Called Quest's 1996 release, Beats, Rhymes and Life. Popularly considered the beginning of Tribe's decline, Beats is a weak album only in light of Tribe's earlier classics; a case could be made that his production there and on 1999's The Love Movement was the strongest in Tribe's catalog. Though Dilla's drums were considered non-ostentatious by hip-hop standards and rightfully so, given the intricacy of his samples and his creeping atmospherics he made them stand out by stuttering the rhythm ever so slightly. It was an approach that Dilla would employ liberally throughout his career.
With the stamp of approval from one of hip-hop's all-time great groups, Dilla was officially in demand. He worked on De La Soul's Stakes Is High release, and during 2000 produced landmark works like Common's Like Water for Chocolate, D'Angelo's Voodoo, and Badu's Mama's Gun. Fantastic Vol. 2, the sophomore album from Slum Village, is considered an underground classic. In recent years, Dilla slowed his output due to his illness, though late-period albums such as 2003's Champion Sound his collaboration with disciple Madlib and Donuts, released the week of his death, are among his strongest material (see our review in Short Cuts).