I Used to Love H.E.R.: Illa J (brother of J Dilla)

The 33rd installment of I Used to Love H.E.R., a series in which artists/bloggers/writers discuss their most essential or favorite hip-hop albums and songs, comes from Illa J, younger brother of the late J Dilla (R.I.P.). Delicious Vinyl will release Illa’s debut album, Yancey Boys, which features Illa J rhyming/singing over previously unused J Dilla tracks. It’s due for a November release. Check the first single below.

ruff draft


J Dilla
Ruff Draft (Mummy Records, 2003)

Note: Stones Throw remastered and rereleased the album in 2007 with additional tracks, instrumentals and a new cover (on the right side).

My favorite hip hop album is Ruff Draft by my brother, J Dilla. It’s classic! I love this album because it’s so raw … he took it back to straight loops. The intro pretty much sums up the album, “You wanna bounce in your whip with dat real live shit? Sound like it’s straight from the mufuckin’ cassette.” Even though he used loops throughout the album, Dilla didn’t loop beats the same way an average producer would. What’s crazy is that a lot of the joints off the album were flipped using the same record. I love to hear it in the system in the car … it bumps real hard, as Dilla declares in the intro. It puts me in a trance. As with any Dilla beat, the drums are out cold. Ruff Draft is important to me because it has inspired me lyrically as a songwriter and an MC. It helped me to think out of the box from an MC standpoint as well as from a producer’s perspective. I love the overall concept of the album, which is getting on your grind and doing whatever it takes to make it. Whenever I listen to it, it keeps me focused and on track with the ultimate goal of achieving my dreams and making them become reality.

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