DAMN! So sorry i missed this one. Too much! But thanks to SweenyKovar, we have a bit of insight into what went down…
Sunday February 22nd was historic.
That night, Cal State LA’s Luckman Theatre was the place every self-respecting hip hop head worldwide envied. ArtDontSleep, Mochilla, Vtech, Carlos Nino and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson created a spectacular musical performance by having a 40 piece orchestra play select pieces of music from James Yancey’s vast discography. I honestly can’t quite explain the electricity in the air that night, I just know everyone was awed and honored to witness such a show.
The night begun with DJ House Shoes playing a set of Dilla classics, originals and select voice messages from Erykah Badu, ?uestlove and J Dilla himself, as well as an unreleased and unleaked Dilla song produced by Shoes. In the interim between Shoes and J Rocc, this Mochilla video played on the giant screen behind the stage.
J Rocc followed with a classic set. J Rocc seems to have every version of every Dilla beat, the full mixes of a good number of heaters and of course a gang of unreleased heat. Still, the biggest spectacle was yet to come. After J Rocc’s set, Common, Ma Dukes and Illa J came onstage to give a brief introduction to the rest of the show. Carlos Nino also appeared to further play host to Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and The Suite For Ma Dukes Orchestra.
The first of their two 45 minute sets began with the orchestra playing cuts off the Suite for Ma Dukes EP (now available on vinyl and iTunes). To hear cuts like ‘Nag Champa,’ ‘Find A Way’ and ‘Fall in Love’ live in this setting was nothing short of mind blowing, but the real treats were to come. Afterwards, the orchestra began to get deeper into Dilla’s discography. They played a particularly ridiculous rendition of Phat Kat’s ‘Don’t Nobody Care About Us’ and had heads in the audience up in arms with their version of Jaylib’s ‘The Official.’ My personal favorite orchestral rendition was the ominous ‘Take Notice,’ or was it the Dilla beat pauses that Miguel and company pulled of in their rendition of ‘Jealousy’? The intermission came and went. Everyone in the lobby was smiling from ear-to-ear, ecstatic about what had just happened. As people filed back into their seats the curtain was raised once again and Carlos Nino introduced the first of a line of special guests, Karriem Riggins on the drums and Dwele on the mic.
Dwele performed an orchestral version of ‘Angel’ backed up by Amp Fiddler, Bilal and an amazing Portugese singer who’s name escapes me. Afterwards Bilal came onstage to perform an MC-less version of ‘Reminisce,’ followed by an orchestral cover of Stan Getz ‘Saudade Vem Correndo,’ aka the original for the Dilla-produced Pharcyde track ‘Runnin’ that must have given everyone in attendance goosebumps. Then, the closing, ‘Stakes Is High’ with special guests Posdonous of De La Soul and Talib Kweli. Everyone was standing up in their seats, chanting along to the chorus. This was magic.
Once again, a huge thank you goes to everyone involved with this performance. It will be a day that will go down in music history. I am humbled to have been in attendance.