J. Dilla’s influence amongst beatmakers has remained strong for decades. His influence in modern works can be found in everything, whether that be in the lo-fi scene or unique sample techniques taken amongst the Stones Throw alumni, his fingerprints are everywhere. Ta-Ku, a producer from Australia, created a series that dedicated itself to the legendary producer. With the tracks simply titled by “Days,” the sprawling effort that was separated into two parts remains one of the strongest Dilla tributes to date.
Ta-Ku manages to do all this while not being a blatant copy, but using heavy influence & techniques. All the songs here sound modern, it isn’t as if there’s some cheesy effects to recreate his sound egregiously. Instead tracks like “Day 33” have a new school synth layering & bright mix, yet incorporating some old school samples & drum patterns that could be found in the work of Dilla.
One thing of note is the length of the tracks, which rarely past the two minute mark. This clearly takes from the work of Donuts specifically, as the entire project is more focused on his instrumental work than production with rappers. In the hands of another, this could lead to the beats to feel like sketches more so than true songs. Yet constantly throughout this project, Ta-Ku passes the bar.
This is mainly due to how he’s able to flip the samples. His drum choices already lead to make head-nodding rhythms, but the sample choices bring a whole other angle to the tracks. Take “Day 29,” where he’s able to flip the track to say his name. Its more than likely a callback to what Dilla did on the Slum Village track “Players,” where he sampled The Singers Unlimited track “Clair” to sound like “players” is being said.
Slum Village – Players
The Singers Unlimited – Clair
Ta-Ku – Day 29
Throughout the project, you can find all these subtle nods to Dilla’s works. While it could never reach the heights of the tributes that Dilla’s closest collaborators had made, such as Madlib, it does stand on its own as a tribute from a music lovers perspective. Someone with a clear love for the craft of beat making, someone that didn’t just run through a single Dilla project & then claimed he changed his life. The love & care can be felt throughout the project, which make it a fantastic experience even if you don’t understand all the nods to Dilla.