A New Documentary On The Making Of J Dilla’s “The Diary” Features The Man, Himself (Video)

While not his first posthumous album, J Dilla’s The Diary stands apart from those of the past. The Mass Appeal and PayJay collaboration on the sixth J Dilla album since his 2006 death is comprised entirely of unissued material but what makes it more unique is its inclusion of the late producer’s skills as an MC. Previously flexed on his solo work like Welcome 2 Detroit, Ruff Draft, and others, Dilla’s rapping on The Diary appears over not only beats of his own making, but also those from Hi-Tek, Pete Rock, Madlib, and more. A beautifully creative and enduring encapsulation of the late artist’s prodigious influence on his contemporaries and future generations, a new mini-documentary explores the notion that much of the album’s structure was decided by Jay Dee himself while also exposing how much thoughtfulness others involved brought to the project.

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Produced by Mass Appeal, “The Making of J Dilla’s ‘The Diary'” blends footage of Dilla’s own words with interviews from album collaborators including Hi-Tek, who says “This album is more so [Dilla’s] vocal album. He really wanted to work with other producers and show his Rap skills.” Karriem Riggins says “that dude was super lyrical and had a vision. Like, even picking beats from other artists, he knew how to write to those beats.” Snoop Dogg airs feelings he has about the late icon’s beatmaking skills, saying “this lane that Detroit boys got, there’s something about it, and he was able to bring it all the way to life through producing. Not just making a beat but producing a song that made people feel good everywhere.” But it’s the opening clip of a Dilla interview that really speaks loudest, as he responds to being asked which producers’ work he’d like to rhyme over – and his responses will sound familiar to Heads.

Though less than seven-minutes long, the film is detailed in its approach, acknowledging not only Dilla’s prowess with the pen but also the somewhat troubled history of the album’s making from being shelved by MCA Records to its eventual foray into the light of day more than a decade later.