9 J Dilla Covers

A selection of inventive and memorable takes on the iconic producer's catalog.

Few people have influenced the lives and creative processes of producers as profoundly as the late, great J Dilla. He created timeless essentials with The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, and De La Soul in the early years of his career. His next level production on the leaked Slum Village record Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1) generated significant buzz throughout the industry.

He landed subsequent production placements with a wide range of artists and recorded the 2003 underground classic Champion Sound with Madlib. And his solo instrumental album Donuts, released just days before his untimely passing in February of 2006, is one of the most enduring and influential instrumental hip-hop albums of all-time.

Give one listen to “Flowers” from the 2013 Yancey Boys (Dilla’s younger brother Illa J and Frank Nitt) album Sunset Blvd. and you can hear how Dilla’s influence continues to reverberate loudly today.

The beautifully filtered piano keys of “Flowers” struck such a chord with London-based model and vocalist Camille Munn that she decided to record this soulful vocal cover of her own.

Likewise, Lacey, Washington artist edac made a captivating vocal cover of Dilla’s acclaimed Welcome 2 Detroit fan favorite “Think Twice.”

With so many famed moments in Dilla’s catalog, it’s easy to forget about moments like “Mythsysizer” from the 2009 posthumous release Jay Stay Paid. Virginia Beach producer AJ Rios didn’t forget. Instead, he took to Instagram and Twitter in 2018 to share his own unique spin on it.

Toronto’s Harrison also took to the keys to pay tribute to Dilla, offering this perfect Vine-style snippet of “Dilla Says Go” from Donuts.

Denton, Texas producer Juicy The Emissary made further use of keys to honor Dilla on his birthday in 2019, chopping up samples with a simple midi controller from M-Audio and reconstructing them in Reason 4 for an inventive homage.

He once again offered tribute on Dilla’s birthday in 2020, this time sharing his flip of “Last Donut of the Night” from Donuts.

Like the previously mentioned edac song, Brooklyn producer Nothing_Neue looked to Welcome 2 Detroit for inspiration with his Dilla cover. Selecting the Elzhi-assisted “Come Get It,” he taught himself the bassline for the song and replayed the entire beat into Ableton sans any sampling.

Instead of Ableton and a bass, Harlem producer Stxn.x used the popular $3.99 Koala Sampler app to construct this immersive celebration of Dilla’s work. His beat generated quite a positive response on Twitter and is now available on SoundCloud.

Last but not least, the multi-talented instrumentalist and producer DJ Harrison initially offered his impressive nod to Dilla as part of a House Shoes sample contest before uploading it to YouTube.

The above videos are but a brief and limited sampling of all the incredible Dilla covers in existence. His expansive catalog will no doubt continue to inspire artists to recreate his work for a very long time.

Thanks for reading, see you on Friday!