paperback - 480 pages
Equal parts biography, musicology, and cultural history, Dilla Time chronicles the life and legacy of James “J Dilla” Yancey, a musical genius who transformed the sound of popular music for the twenty-first century.
Charnas chronicles the life of Yancey, from his gifted childhood in Detroit, to his rise as “the producer’s producer,” to the rare blood disease that caused his premature death; and follows the people who kept him and his ideas alive. He also rewinds the histories of American rhythms: from the birth of soul in Dilla’s own “Motown,” to funk, techno, and disco. Here, music is a story of Black culture in America and of what happens when human and machine times are synthesized into something new.
Dilla’s beats, startling some people with their seeming “sloppiness,” were actually the work of a perfectionist almost spiritually devoted to his music. This is the story of the man and his machines, his family, friends, partners, and celebrity collaborators. Culled from more than 150 interviews about one of the most important and influential musical figures of the past hundred years, Dilla Time is a book as delightfully detail-oriented and unique as J Dilla’s music itself.