How J Dilla used a sampler to make his mark on hip-hop history
Arguably the two most pivotal moments in hip-hop history were the advent of the drum machine and the embrace of sampling, and over the course of hip-hop’s development, the movement’s most influential figures, from Dr. Dre to DJ Premier all commonly wielded both of these tools to make their mark on what is now unequivocally America’s most popular music. By the early 1990’s, fully customizable sampling machines like Akai’s MCP 3000 reigned supreme, and one legendary producer had an ability to use it that was head and shoulders above the rest: the late J Dilla.
Dilla’s MPC 3000 is now being honored in the National Museum of African American History in Washington, D.C.. His loose, intentionally imperfect drumming style is enshrined in hip-hop history and still largely inspires artists in various corners of the rap and hip-hop space today. In a new Vox feature that delves into the beloved beat maker’s distinctly renown style and equipment of choice, Dilla’s distinguished technique is described as “humanizing” in the way that he would circumvent his MPC’s quantization capabilities and manually place his beats with keen rhythmic improvisation.
Well worth the watch, the video dives into a revealing lesson in hip-hop and electronic production history behind the work of one iconic producer and his equally iconic piece of hardware.