Documentary about late music producer J Dilla, a seminal figure in hip-hop, from the EP Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson

Academy Award winner Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson has prepared his next project – a documentary about the late groundbreaking hip-hop producer J Dilla (James Dewitt Yancey).

Thompson, who won the Oscar earlier this year for directing soul summerwill be the executive producer Dilla’s hourbased on the New York Times bestseller Dilla Time: The life and afterlife of J Dilla, the hip-hop producer who reinvented the beat by Dan Charnas. Joseph Patel, who produced soul summer (with Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein) will co-direct Dilla’s hour with Darby Wheeler.

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Thompson’s Two One Five Entertainment, Cinetic Media and Scenario Media are among the film’s producing partners, which enjoys the approval of Yancey Survivors. Dilla died in 2006 at the age of 32 from a rare blood disease.

“The Estate of James Dewitt Yancey and his wholly-owned production entity, Pay Jay Productions, Inc., which benefits J Dilla’s two children, his younger brother and his mother, is proud to give its blessing to an incredible project created by discerning and talented filmmakers who knew J Dilla,” the estate said in a statement. “We trust the judgment of Ahmir, Joseph, Dan and Scenario to elevate Dilla’s life, music and legacy to their rightful place in the canon of music’s great innovators; and their film is the only documentary project we have approved.

According to a statement about the project, “The documentary will be part biography, part musicology and part musical meditation, featuring insight into some of the most influential and innovative voices in modern music.” It will also address “the seismic impact that Dilla’s drum machine time manipulations have had on modern pop music”.

Questlove is among a select group of high profile artists who have worked with Dilla, a list that includes Dr Dre, Pharrell Williams, Ye [Kanye West]Common, Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, Common and Erykah Badu.


Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson – Credit: Robert Benavides/Sony Pictures Classics

Robert Benavides/Sony Pictures Classics

“Explaining musical genius is my mission,” Questlove said in a statement. “Being able to tell the world about the musician who has had the most influence on me is a dream come true. Not just me, but a whole generation of musicians that everyone knows and loves. J Dilla was our teacher. And what he taught us was how to feel the rhythm in a way that we had never felt before. I am so honored to help bring his story to the world through this documentary.

In addition to Dilla’s hourQuestlove is working on a documentary about Sly Stone, which was featured prominently in soul summer. His fellow executive producers on Dilla’s hour include Two One Five Entertainment’s Zarah Zohlman, Shawn Gee and Tariq Trotter. Dana O’Keefe and Cinetic Media are also executive producers. Patel, Charnas and Rodrigo Bascuñán, Darby Wheeler and Anupa Mistry of Scenario Media are set to produce.

No expected release date has been announced.

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