ALL: J Dilla

The Legacy of J Dilla

The New York Times documentary The Legacy of J Dilla covers oft-trod ground. The rapper/producer’s all-too brief life as well as the turmoil surrounding his estate has been the subject of countless articles and Dan Charnas’ bestselling 2022 biography, Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm. Directors Chris Frierson and Esther Dere seem to follow Charnas’ book closely, from the sociopolitical conditions afflicting Dilla’s childhood home in Conant Gardens, Detroit to the avalanche of “Dilla Changed My Life” swag and lawsuits between his decedents. The hour-long film’s main appeal is to actually see him (through archival footage), his family and friends speak. They may be spinning a well-told tale, but there’s a certain poignancy in watching them peer into the camera and memorialize a justly lionized musician. DJ Jazzy Jeff’s comments are particularly welcome. The Legacy of J Dilla premiered on FX/Hulu as part of its ongoing documentary series, The New York Times Presents.