J Dilla was a musical genius. The Detroit artist who died way too young at 32 years old in 2006 made the beats behind a variety of big hits and helped define the sound of a whole genre.

If you don’t know who James Dewitt Yancey was, it’s time for a little primer. After all, two of his beat machines – his Minimoog and his MPC 3000 – are in the Smithsonian’s African American History Museum in Washington, D.C.

Here are a few tracks you might know he was a part of, if you didn’t already.

And my favorite Dilla-only track (he of course had a discography of his own).

There’s a lot more to the story, of course.

Vox did a great job with a video highlighting just why Dilla’s sound was so delicious and it’s worth a watch, including how the MPC is an instrument – just like a violin or a piano. And I think it is.

We’ve embedded it at the top, and think it should get some local love.

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