The Legacy of J. Dilla is making its debut on the FX network tonight. The New York Times documentary about the late hip-hop producer explores Dilla’s ingenuity as a beatmaker, the history of his Conant Gardens neighborhood and the various conflicts over his estate. Dilla died in 2006 at age 32 after battling a rare blood disease. At the time he was a budding underground legend having worked with Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, The Roots, D’Angelo and Common. He also founded his own group Slum Village and used his beats to elevate several local rappers from Detroit including Phat Kat, Frank-N-Dank and others. The producer’s career took a different turn after R&B veteran Amp Fiddler introduced him to Q-Tip after a fated interaction during a Lollapalooza tour. Since his passing, he’s been talked about heavily among rap connoisseurs, beat junkies and producers. The general public is still unaware of his contributions and the documentary is a way to commemorate his work and introduce him to those who still don’t connect the sounds to his name. DJ Jazzy Jeff is in the film deconstructing Dilla’s methodology that still mystifies the most initiated beatsmiths to this day.
The James Yancy estate has made a deal with Kano, the company responsible for the STEM player to release unheard music from Dilla over the next 10 years. The 20 songs are being released alongside the film. Fans can listen to the music on the STEM player which allows the songs to be remixed and the mixes can be shared online. The STEM player costs $200 and a monthly subscription is $1.94. The Legacy of J. Dilla will debut on FX and can be watched later on Hulu.