Artist News

Questlove working on J Dilla documentary

By | Published on Monday 26 September 2022

J Dilla

Roots drummer Questlove has announced that he is the executive producer on a new documentary about late hip hop producer J Dilla, titled ‘Dilla Time’. The film also has the backing of the J Dilla estate.

“Explaining musical genius is my mission”, says Questlove. “To be able to tell the world about the musician that had the most influence on me is a dream come true. Not just on me, but on an entire generation of musicians that everyone knows and loves. J Dilla was our teacher. And what he taught us was how to feel rhythm in a way we had never felt before. I’m so honoured to be a part of bringing his story to the world through this documentary”.

The estate adds: “The estate of James Dewitt Yancey, and its wholly-owned production entity, Pay Jay Productions Inc, which benefits J Dilla’s two children, his younger brother, and his mother, is proud to give its blessing to an amazing project created by discerning and talented filmmakers who knew J Dilla”.

“We trust the judgment of [the film’s makers] to elevate Dilla’s life, music and legacy to their rightful place in the canon of music’s great innovators”, they go on, “and their film is the only documentary project we have endorsed”.

‘Dilla Time’ is based on a book of the same name, written by Dan Charnas, which was published earlier this year. Commenting on the announcement of the film on Instagram he said: “This has been in the works, in many ways, before a word of the book was written. There were two things I knew for sure”.

“First, that Questlove had to be a part of it, because he is storyteller number one when it comes to explaining Dilla’s genius; he really precedes us all”, he continued. “Second, that any film had to seek the cooperation of the estate, the only entity that represents all four of Dilla’s heirs and owns his intellectual property”.

“I took a long break from thinking about telling a visual story while I wrote the book, because getting the book right was more important than anything”, he concluded. “What we’ve done here is preserve the independence of the storytelling while making sure that the people Dilla loved are connected to the project in a meaningful way”.

This is not Questlove’s first foray into film. Last year he released his directorial debut, ‘Summer Of Soul’, a documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. He is also currently working on a documentary about Sly Stone.

J Dilla died in 2006, aged 32, due to complications arising from rare blood disease TTP and lupus. He was a founder member of Slum Village, and released a number of solo albums, as well as working with numerous other artists. With Questlove and others, he formed the Soulquarians producer collective.