Black Sheep icon Dres is currently working on an album entirely made up of bars laid out over J Dilla’s beats. He has now shared how he came to be entrusted with the storied producer’s legacy.
On Tuesday (November 21), Paramount + released The Choice Is Yours, a documentary that explores the 56-year-old spitter’s legacy, as well as what lies ahead. Leading up to its release, the Native Tongues alum sat down with HipHopDX and revealed the story behind the upcoming Dres & Dilla project.
The Queens MC was formally introduced to the late beatmaker’s mother, Maureen Yancey (aka. Ma Dukes), by a mutual friend. Though he and Dilla didn’t have a close relationship, the rapper still felt the need to express his appreciation for the departed legend to his family.
He clearly left a good impression of them, because the very next month, he spotted Dukes and her husband at his show in Puerto Rico.
“Right after I finish rocking, I go right up to them and we start talking,” he explained. “Come to find out, they have a house out there, and they’re like, ‘Yo, come back to the house, Ma’s gonna cook, we got some DJs coming through.’
“We wound up breaking day, literally seeing the sun come up. It was the most amazing time in Puerto Rico … And that’s where I was offered the opportunity [to make an album from Dilla’s beats].”
He added: “One track would’ve been like, ‘Thank you!’ So to have this opportunity, I was blown away, and I took it very seriously.”
Piecing together the instrumental-packed hard drive to extend the life of “one of the illest producers ever” is a central theme of the new film.
In a heartwarming scene from the deep-dive, Ma Dukes lets Dres know just how must she trusts him to keep her son’s memory alive.
“You can’t be afraid to take that step,” she encourages the Hip Hop vet, as he struggles to handle the project with care amid criticism from some of Dilla’s fans and friends.