Originally scheduled for
February 2 but postponed because of the ice storm, the Jazz Kitchen finally
played host March 23 to the J Dilla tribute show. The
event expanded in the interim:
Milk was added as headliner, and a private informational presentation about the
Red Bull Music Academy was tacked on to the beginning of the night.
The show is an annual tribute
to the late, legendary hip-hop producer J Dilla, who, in his
scant 32 years on earth, reshaped entire genres through both his solo
instrumental work and his production for artists such as Common, Busta
Rhymes and A Tribe Called Quest, among many others.
A private presentation, "How
to Apply For the Red Bull Music Academy," preceded the concert itself. The
Red Bull Music Academy is an ongoing series of music workshops staged in a
different location each session, the next of which is scheduled
for later this year in Tokyo. Each year 60 musicians are selected for the
program, which began in 1998, and past lecturers have included ?uestlove, Tiga,
Biz Markie, King Jammy and Bob Moog.
As the Seattle Times put it in 2005: "It's less a music academy than an
artists collective, with a very generous, very wealthy Santa Claus (played by
Red Bull) footing the bill."
Several members of the
audience raised their hands when asked who had already filled out the
17-page handwritten application for the Academy, which also
sponsored the concert.
"This is an investment in
your career," the Academy's Indiana representative Nick Saligoe, aka DJ
Metrognome, told the small audience. "No one from Indiana has been selected
After a short video presentation, Larry Mizzel Jr., a columnist for Seattle's The
Stranger, led an
extensive Q and A session with Black Milk.
During the interview, Black Milk said he
treasured the short amount of time he spent workingwith
the late producer.
"I never got a chance to ask him advice
about making beats," he said. "Only a few cats got to sit in that room and see
The tribute show itself got
started a half-hour later, when The Native Sun band took the stage.A
rolling cast of singers and MCs fronted the group during the set, paying
tribute to both J Dilla and the artists with whom he worked.
F.I.R.E. and Son of Thought took the
stage first, demonstrating fantastic stage presence and
chemistry with one another, followed by another duo, Mr. Kinetik and Rusty Redenbacher, that
was just as adept in working the crowd. Other highlights were Jaecyn Bayne's
intricate, a capella freestyle on his love for cannabis and
Alpha's interpretation of DOOM's Dilla-produced track, "Gazzillion
The penultimate song of the
tight, funky set featured every MC making his way to the
stage at once to take turns freestyling over alive
interpretation of J Dilla's classic grooves.
The Native Sun band and accompanying MCs
were solid, but things really got moving once the stage was
cleared and instruments switched out for Black Milk and his backing
band. The band warmed the crowd up while Black Milk rapped the opening
song using a cordless microphone backstage. The MC then burst on the
scene, spitting rhymes furiously and clutching a soon-to-be sweat-drenched
The entire packed house was tuned to the
same vibration, and several audience members rapped along to every word of the show. When Black Milk's set ended
several audience members begged for an encore, which came in the form
of one last song, followed by a full-band instrumental freak-out.