Questlove Announces J Dilla Documentary In the Works

After an Oscar win for best documentary, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, famously known as the drummer of The Roots, is tackling another project: documenting the genius of J Dilla.

Questlove-produced documentary on J Dilla’s life in the works

After an Oscar-win for the documentary “Summer of Soul” he directed, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson has announced his next project: a documentary on the life and genius of hip hop musician J Dilla. Based on the book “Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, The Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm” by Dan Charnas, the planned film will explore the musician’s early life, the height of his career and his “early” death at age 32.

J Dilla, whose real name is James Dewitt Yancey, was a music producer, rapper, and musician from Detroit. He was known for his unique approach to music production, which included unconventional sound sampling and odd time signatures and rhythms. His influence and sound were notable in the albums by artists such as Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, his own group —  Slum Village —  and others.

“Explaining musical genius is my mission. To be able to tell the world about the musician that had the most influence on me is a dream come true,” The Roots drummer said in a statement obtained by The Grio. “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 ever felt before. I’m so honored to be a part of bringing his story to the world through this documentary.”

The Detroit musician reportedly often worked with Questlove when he was alive. He and Questlove founded a production company and musical collective known as The Soulquarians, which was in charge of albums by musicians including Erykah Badu and Common. They also produced tracks for The Roots’ 1999 album “Things Fall Apart.”

Questlove will executive produce the film and will reunite with his “Summer of Soul” co-producer Joseph Patel, who will produce and co-direct the J Dilla documentary with with Darby Wheeler. Additionally, Two One Five Entertainment, Scenario Media, Cinetic Media, and New York Times bestselling author Dan Charnas are also on board with the project, according to the Hollywood Reporter.


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