88-Keys Meets J. Dilla (a.k.a. Bogie Meets Jay Dee)
I actually meant to write & post this on the day of the late/great one’s birthdate (February 7th) but I was totally engulfed by all of the creative perfection that was being put out in the airwaves that day… (‘Dilla Day) where peopled played his music non-stop as they should anyway. With a heavy heart, I post this on the day of his passing… His return to the essence. Just something I thought I’d share with you all.
My story here is a quick lil’ trip down memory lane for me. I remember it like it was yesterday.
(Click On Photos For Further Commentary)
I want to say the year was late 1994. One day Q-Tip was out diggin’ in a small town called Malverne on Long Island at “Red” & Amy Carrero’s house. He was cop’n records from The Carrero’s eldest son, the guy who taught me all about diggin’, the late/great John “Crates” Carrero1 (my mentor). R.I.P. I used to work for John. He’d pay me in cash then, eventually, I opted to take my pay in vinyl (one of the few best decisions I’ve ever made). John had just “paid” me for the day so I had my little pile of about 8 or 10 records for the day. One of those records was Bobby Hutcherson’s Montara…
Mint condition; factory sealed. I opened it earlier that day & was bug’n out thinking, “this is DEFINITELY a sample for A Tribe Called Quest.” This all went down before ‘Tip showed up to dig. He spends maybe about an hour or less going thru records at the crib. Right before he leaves I humbly approach ‘Tip & suggested he check out this Bobby Hutcherson record. I played the sample for him & he liked it. He asked John how much for the record but John actually held me down. He said that it was my record & that he’d have to get a price from me. All said with a smirk of course. So ‘Tip turned to me & asked how much I wanted for the record. I told him he could have it for free. By the way, my mind was doing somersaults since The Abstract Poetic’s arrival at the house. ‘Tip gave me a pound (does the hip hop community even say “pound” anymore or did this go out during ’96?) *shrugs* & said that I could drop it off at his session in the city that week & that there’s “this kid” he wanted me to meet anyway. I agreed… Because I’m no idiot… I’m a self-proclaimed ‘Tribe’ “stan”.
Q-Tip tells me to meet him at Battery Studio at a certain time. This would be the first of many times I’d go there (for other peoples’ sessions: The Roots, Bush Babees, meeting Mos Def, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Shawn J. Period ALL before these artists started their professional careers.) So I arrive at the studio &, much to my dismay, I found out that the session had pretty much ended right before I got there. ‘Tribe was still there… & “this kid”. I guess ‘Tip just wanted to get all of the work done & out of the way before having any ‘outside’ visitors disrupting their work flow. So, upon my arrival, after Dani the receptionist grants me access… I see Phife & Litro laughing (my first time meeting them), Bob Power just sitting behind the boards laughing as well, Ali was in a different room at the time; I don’t really recall seeing Jarobi there at all that day & Q-Tip & “this kid” literally running around the studio chasing each other like they were playing tag or something. ‘Tip notices me then give me A POUND & introduces me to everybody… by my old nickname: Bogie. My mind is spinning because I’m in the studio with A Tribe Called (f*ckin’) QUEST!!! This was at the top of my bucket list.
As he introduces me to everybody I couldn’t help but noticing that both Q-Tip & “this kid” had the same Ralph Lauren Polo Sport jacket that I always wanted to cop but just never got around to saving my money to be able to buy it. It’s the same bubble coat Bootie Brown wore in The Pharcyde video for “Drop”. I couldn’t shake my attention off of that. ‘Tip had the black coat; “this kid” had the green one. “This kid” also had a Ralph Lauren Polo 5 panel duckbill cap on which I had NEVER seen before. I was trying to figure out which store he might’ve gotten it from: Macy’s? Bloomy’s? The Polo Mansion? Nah… I was just over there earlier that week & I never saw it or else I’d have at least cop’d THAT. The cap was dope! So ‘Tip puts his arms around me & “this kid” & was like, “yo this is m’man Jay Dee. He do beats. Yo this is Bogie. He got beats too.” The funny thing is I then felt compelled to give my beat tape which I wanted to surprise ‘Tip with to this Jay Dee guy. So I did. Had my production name & company name on there with my “office” phone number… a.k.a. my parents’ phone number. I also had my Smart Beep2 pager number on there. Jay Dee took my beat tape, gave me a pound & we were all there just chillin’ at that point while things were being wrapped up. I actually don’t remember hearing any music that day. I was a lil’ let down about that. I was really looking forward to hearing some exclusive ‘Tribe songs that day. Jay Dee & I carried on some small talk. You know I asked him about that Polo cap. We also talked about the fact that we both used the MPC 3000 but it wasn’t anywhere near an “in depth” conversation about it at all:
Jay Dee: “What’chu use?”
Bogie: “A 3000. What’chu use?”
Jay Dee: “I got a 3000 too & I got an SP’.”
Bogie: “Word? The only time I ever saw an SP’ in person was at Pharoahe Monch’s crib3.”
Anyway, he tells me he’s from Detroit & that he was leaving in a couple of days.
A few days later Jay Dee called my crib. I get on the cordless & take it down to the basement where my “studio” was set up. So he’s like, “yo… check this out.” He then starts playing a few beats over the phone. These were ‘my beats’. So he plays about 4 of my tracks & I’m now thinking he’s playing joints for me that he likes because he’s new rapper who ‘Tip was about to put on. So now I’m getting a lil’ amp’d & I start interjecting while he’s playing ‘my beats’ for me like, “Ah okay, you like that one? Cool. Oh you f*cks with that one too? Bet.” I’m already counting dollar signs in my head thinking to myself, “How much do I charge him? Do give him a quote on beats now or do I have to go through ‘Tip to set this all up?” Then… The laughter begins.
So now Jay Dee’s laughing when I’m asking him if he liked those particular beats on my beat tape which I had just given him a few days ago. He’s like, “Nah… Listen again.” So he plays all of the same beats for me (‘my beats’) but then I noticed something peculiar so then I had to ask, “Yo… How’d you changed the drums on my beats? On a cassette?” I was baffled. It turned out that Jay Dee not only caught the same samples I did but chop’d them up almost the same exact way I did. The only difference I could detect over the phone was that the drums were different. His drum patterns & sounds just knocked way harder & more left field than mine. I felt like putting holes in a couple of egg shells & putting them over my eyes because I was “Buggin’ Out, Buggin’ Out, Buggin’ Out I’m Buggin’ Out!” Yo, this was crazy to me. Him & I just started laughing over the phone. He even went as far as to name the records we sampled to further prove that he actually did the beat, before hearing my beat tape, as well. I still have those beats on 3.5″ floppy diskettes but lately they haven’t been able to load up on my MP’. In the event that they do in the future, I’ll add ‘em to this post &, for all of the people who had the pleasure of knowing Jay Dee back then & get the super early beat tapes he used to distribute, you’ll hear which beats I’m referring to for sure. They’re kind of unforgettable.
Anyway, from that day on we started calling each other almost every week & just play beats over the phone. It got to the point where I knew I was being annihilated because his beats would get crazier & crazier each week. Then eventually, upon his suggestion, we started mailing4 each other cassettes. That’s when I started feeling like I’d never make it in the biz. I used to use these 10 min. cassettes (5 minutes one each side) & try to squeeze in as many beats as I could but usually it would be about 12 beats on there. Quick minute long fade-in/fade-out beats one after the other. This dude would sent like a little more than double the amount of beats I’d send & they’d ALL be on some “how is ‘this kid’ making beats like THIS?!?!” Even the joints that we’d sample off of the same artist… the same record… the same SONG even would just have a completely different “feel” to ‘em. It was unexplainable. I remember when he first played me a beat he made using the CryBaby Wah Wah pedal. Holy sh*t dude! WTF?? This dude just wasn’t playing fair at ALL. Now it all seemed to make perfect sense as to why he was up in A Tribe Called Quest’s session & I was asked to come thru at the tail end.
(The photos of ‘Dilla [& myself] were taken at the end of May in 2000. Not when we first crossed paths back in ’94ish.)
I’ve already made this “lil’ (quick) trip down memory lane” way too long. But that’s pretty much it for this story. I hope I didn’t put any of y’all to sleep with my focus on being as detailed & descriptive as possible. *ha*
- More in loving memory of my mentor John “Crates” Carrero in a future post. May his soul RIP… Salute!
- How many of y’all remember Smart Beep in the Tri-State? All of my 30-Somethings+ stand UP!
- This mention was clearly me trying to pull a stunt move on my part. Hey, I had to… ‘Dilla had the stupid fresh Polo 5 panel & bubble coat. *Kanye shrug*
- Yes… MAIL-ING. Not to be confused with E-mailing. Once emailing became the rave, this was later referred to as “snail mail”. Now, it’s either only used for bills or a check… or Disney vacation packages once ‘they’ find out that you’re married.
Sidebar: Just the other day I went to the J. Dilla Foundation One Won’t Do J. Dilla Tribute & had chance to chop it up with Ma Dukes & Joy (the mother of one of ‘Dilla’s daughters). They were actually recalling the times when I used to call the crib & the daycare center Ma Dukes ran back then asking for Jay Dee. They joked that all of the kids Ma Dukes took care of knew who I was by my funny name (88-Keys). I started using “88-Keys” when I was calling Jay Dee just so I could feel like I’d really someday make it in the industry… on some self-worth sh*t. Joy even said, “I know that ain’t his real name.” *laughs ensue*
- Q-Tip… Thanks for literally being one of my few heroes & for introducing me to the one they called Jay Dee. ‘Tip you’re a real life Black superhero… Hancock. *Drake punch line*
- Ma Dukes & Joy… Thanks for the many years of patching me thru to your beloved son & father of your child (respectively). Also, you are doing an amazing job with the J. Dilla Foundation & keeping his legacy alive. My heart goes out to you & your entire family.
- J. Dilla… Man… Too soon m’man… Way too soon! – RIP – (“Them’s the Buddy Lee’s”) …Love!