DJ Check One (Dameion Hines) celebrates J Dilla with “Welcome to Dillaville”By Sam DeLeo | May 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
From age 5 when his father gave him his first drum kit to mastering the Cuban single-headed timbale drums as a teenager, Hines has been on a path to find challenging rhythms in hip hop, jazz, soul and electronic music. Heâ€™s played with artists like Ozomatli, Dwele (who he toured with internationally), the Kyle Hollandsworth Band, J Dilla collaborator Phat Kat and has deejayed for J Dillaâ€™s group Slum Village. Locally, heâ€™s held a nine-year, Tuesday residency at Appaloosa that has seen collaborators like Big Giganticâ€™s Dominic Lalli, One Republic, B.o.B and once even former Denver Bronco quarterback Jay Cutler rapping a version of â€śToo Legit to Quit.â€ť
The repetition of J Dillaâ€™s name above is no accident for Hines. Heâ€™s immersed himself in the work of the legendary Detroit beatmaker, producer and MC who passed away in 2006. In 2008, Hines printed a t-shirt called â€śProducer Tree,â€ť which Dillaâ€™s mother, aka â€śMa Dukes,â€ť has been rumored to sport a time or two. â€śWith the print and the t-shirt,â€ť Hines said, â€śI was just trying to show that, for acts like A Tribe Called Quest, Pharcyde and De la Soul, the father of a lot of those beats was J Dilla.â€ť
On Saturday at 1Up Colfax, Hines is part of a show called â€śWelcome to Dillaville,â€ť which includes former Pharcyde members SlimKid3 and Fatlip, Slum Village and Casual of Hieroglyphics, among others, in a tribute and celebration of J Dillaâ€™s music. We spoke with Hines in advance of the show about Dillaâ€™s legacy.
Reverb: In your opinion, why was and is J Dilla important?
Hines: Dilla has become like James Brown, in a sense. You almost canâ€™t play funk without referencing James Brown in some way. And now, itâ€™s almost like you canâ€™t play underground hip hop without referencing J Dilla. When his tracks were coming out, they shaped the music of his time, but theyâ€™re still shaping the music of the present. Also, it seems like thereâ€™s been a huge discovery lately as to just how many songs he put out. If he hadnâ€™t existed, Iâ€™m not sure anyone else could fill that gap.
R: One thing you donâ€™t hear people doing is remixing Dilla’s beats. Is that kind of an unwritten rule among musicians?
H: People and family from Detroit have made it clear that you donâ€™t fuck with his music. Iâ€™ve heard â€“ Busta Rhymes was one of the artists who said it â€“ that a lot of his beats werenâ€™t even mastered, they just came raw from the studio and sounded pretty much ready-to-go.
R: What can people expect from â€śWelcome to Dillavilleâ€ť?
H: Iâ€™m excited to see the other two (former) members of The Pharcyde (Slimkid3 and Fatlip). You donâ€™t get to see them perform that often. Itâ€™ll also be great to see Slum Village again. Personally, my show is about Dilla the rapper, about MC Dilla and his rhymes, which I have not seen done before. Some of the songs he rapped on, even if he didnâ€™t make the beats, still had his signature rhythm and sense of timing. I think he was a great rapper.
R: How has Dilla changed the way you and other musicians you know approach music?
H: Iâ€™m huge on intonation, I guess, and tradition and teaching, and it seems like Dilla has added to the palate of rhythms that I and other musicians can choose from now. Just like you have the shuffle or the Cumbia, now you have Dillaâ€™s rhythms. His sound etched its mark in the game as rare but timeless.
R: Since he died in 2006, do you feel some people have tried to cash in on Dillaâ€™s name?
H: Itâ€™s a little weird or unfortunate when you see people on YouTube listing J. Dilla in the credits as producer when heâ€™s been dead for eight years and these people have no connection to Detroit. In the beginning, a lot of the tribute proceeds went to his family, but after time passed, tributes became more about entertaining and celebrating the music. I guess it kind of amazes me that there are even tribute bands now like Super Diamond and Brit Floyd â€“ where the original dudes are still alive (laughs).
Denver-based writer Sam DeLeo is a published poet, has seen two of his plays produced and recently completed his novel, â€śAs We Used to Sing.â€ť His selected work can be read atÂ samdeleo.com.