The late James Yancey is one of the greatest music producers of all-time. Known as J Dilla, you’ve heard his creations over legendary songs from - Tribe Called Quest, Janet Jackson, De la Soul, and many more.
Fellow producer, Madlib, compares him to jazz legend John Coltrane. Because everyone took something from J Dilla.
J Dilla used lots of equipment like the MPC to make his music. But you’ll never guess how he learned.
Think about a skill that you learned recently. It could be how to swim, drive a stick shift car, or maybe even cook a meal.
How did you learn the skill? Did you read a manual or instructions? Did you instantly pick it up? Did you make a lot of mistakes?
Or did you feel like you were going to drown? Did you stall the car? And burn the dinner?
Did you break it?
The sexy piece of advice is to make things. What if we broke things instead? This is the process where you can learn so much more if you decide to learn from someone who’s done something great - and break it and take it apart.
Mig Reyes, Creative Mornings - Backwards Advice
In this insightful talk, Mig shares how he learned to code and build things. The advice he received was to rip something off and if you’re not breaking things, you’re not trying hard enough.
Because lessons won’t teach you how to swim. A manual can’t teach you how to drive stick. And a cook book won’t make the food taste better.
You learn to swim by swimming. You learn to drive stick by driving. And you learn to cook by cooking.
J Dilla never read an equipment manual. Detriot legend Amp Fiddler told Dilla not to read a book. You have to learn on your own.
J Dilla broke things. That’s how he learned. Quest Love even details how he recorded Think Twice using a vibraphone mallet and broken drumstick wrapped in toliet paper and rubber bands.
After losing a battle with lupus in 2006, his mother was reunited with his record collection. You will appreciate his samples and how he broke down records transforming them into new music.
Do yourself a favor and listen to J Dilla. And most of all learn from how he learned.
The next time you want to learn a new skill - break it down.