Mixtape: Rare J. Dilla Mixtape Reveals His Eclectic Influences and His Search for The Perfect, Soulful Beat

It’s been a decade since  J. Dilla‘s tragic and untimely death due to complications from Lupus and over that period of time, the prolific, Detroit-born producer and beatmaker’s reputation has grown — to the point that he is arguably one of hip-hop’s most beloved and influential artists and producers; in fact, much of his work possesses a timelessness and vitality that few contemporary producers of any genre can manage. The past year has seen the posthumous release of Dilla’s emcee debut The Diary, an effort that has engendered quite a bit of controversy between Dilla’s surviving family, the executors of his creative estate and fans. Sadly, Dilla had died before he could finish the album and much of the album’s material was largely unfinished, leaving producers the difficult task of piecing and stitching together incomplete song ideas and filling in musical gaps all while trying their best to hew as closely to its creators intentions as they could. And naturally as you can imagine that leaves a ton of questions about the very nature of art, its creation, and whether it’s ethical to mine a deceased creator’s incomplete works to make money among countless others.

Interestingly enough, 2016 is also the tenth anniversary of the posthumous relate of J. Dilla’s The Shining through BBE Records, and to celebrate the occasion the label is about to release the project on 7 inch vinyl for the first time ever. Along with that, the folks at Boiler Room stumbled upon an unreleased and largely unheard mixtape that the renowned and beloved producer made sometime between mid 1999 and early 2000 — and the mixtape reveals that Dilla had a diverse and eclectic array of musical influences, and was restlessly digging in the crates and looking for that perfect groove, that perfect breakbeat, that perfect bassline that he could use for a song. Throughout the mixtape you’ll hear Dilla exploring jazz, funk, disco, R&B, soul, pop, New Wave, blue eyed soul, Afrobeat and others — and in some way you can hear every one of those genres influencing his aesthetic vision.


Chick Corea “Bliss”

Roy Porter Sound Machine “Jessica”

A Taste of Honey “Boogie Oogie Oogie”

The Doobie Brothers “What A Fool Believes”

Heatwave “The Groove Line”

Funkineven & Greg Beato “F’s Diss”

B’52’s “Mesopotamia”

Total Experience “Contradiction”

Bobby Caldwell “Open Your Eyes”

Roberta Flack “Feel Like Makin’ Love”

Stevie Wonder “As”

Love Unlimited “Under The Influence of Love”

Azymuth “Un Amigo (A Friend)”

Shuggie Otis “Undisclosed”

Ohio Players “Ecstasy ”

Grandmaster Flash “Undisclosed”

Michael Jackson “I Can’t Help It”

Myra Barnes “The Message From The Soul Sisters”

Donald Byrd “Think Twice”

Fred Wesley “Watergate”

Crusaders “Streetlife”

Loose Ends “Stay A Little While, Child”

The Temptations “Runaway Child, Running Wild”

Chaka Khan “Ain’t Nobody”

Rene & Angela “I Love You More”

Stevie Wonder “Reggae Woman”

Rene & Angela “I’ll Be Good”

Steve Arrington “U Meet My Approval”

Alicia Myers “I Want to Thank You”

The System “You Are In My System”

Sly Stone “Family Affair”

Cameo “Back N Forth”

Hall & Oates “I Can’t Go For That”

Slave “Watching You”

Tom Browne “Jamaica Funkin'”

Bobby Caldwell “I Don’t Want To Lose Your Love”


The Gap Band “Yearning For Your Love”

Fela Kuti “Water No Get Enemy”

Marvin Gaye “Soon I’ll Be Loving You Again”

Rick James “Mary Jane”

Sade “Sweetest Taboo”

24 Karat “Black Ghetto”

Heatwave “Mind What You Find”

MFSB “Love Is The Message”

Evelyn King “I’m In Love”

George Benson “Love X Love”

Change “Glow of Love”

Positive Force “We Got The Funk”