Around the World with Jay Dee: Part 3 – Europe

Illustration: Jeremy Leung

In our third installment of “Around the World with Jay Dee” (aka J Dilla), we’ll explore how Jay Dee sampled a wide variety of sounds from Europe.

He loved to incorporate the sounds of jazz, funk, and classical music into his works, but also discovered some early electronic music artists such as Kraftwerk and Daft Punk. He used some samples as central components in his tracks while others were just used as subtle effects – let’s take a look at how Jay Dee was inspired by the sounds of Europe.

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Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic (Slum Village Remix)”

Jay Dee had sampled Thomas Bangalter’s (the eventual other half of Daft Punk) solo work in the past. Mutual admirers of each other’s music, Daft Punk eventually asked Jay Dee’s outfit Slum Village to produce a remix of their song “Aerodynamic,” a track off of their 2001 release, Discovery. The opening bells are re-incorporated into a slow, head-nodding rhythm. The crunchy, 8-bit guitars of Daft Punk’s track are also slowed down and EQ’ed to a mid-to-low range rumble – check it out.

The original track by Daft Punk.

The Slum Village remix.

J Dilla’s “Track 13” samples Alain Goraguer’s “Le Bracelet” (from the “Fantastic Planet” soundtrack)

Jay Dee must have been a big fan of René Laloux’s seminal animated 1973 film “Fantastic Planet,” enough to produce an unreleased beat flip of the soundtrack by Alain Goraguer. Not much is altered for Jay Dee’s take, but hear the piano and horns chopped against his beat.

The original sample from Alain Goraguer’s “Le Bracelet”

How the sample was used.


J Dilla’s “Dewitt To Do It” samples Placebo’s “Bulkwish.”

“Dewitt To Do It” features Placebo, a Belgian jazz band (not to be confused with the American band), using their song “Bulkwish” from 1973. For this track, Jay Dee focuses on the syncopated keyboard/bassline. The sampled line is so infectious, and interestingly enough, only appears once in the original track (serving as a bridge between the intro and first solo). Jay Dee chose to loop this sample and make it the backbone of his track. He also tuned it down and flipped the chords so that they start lower and jump higher in the 2nd part of the phrase, giving the track some forward momentum.

The original sample in Placebo’s “Bulkwish.”

How the sample was used.


Illa J’s “We Here” samples Kraftwerk’s “Metal On Metal.”

Jay Dee still is the master of ‘the pocket.’ In “We Here,” he sampled the hi-hats from the seminal electronic group, Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk is widely considered to be the first innovators and pioneers of electronic music, and introduced many new sounds to the masses. The hi-hat sample in Kraftwerk’s “Metal On Metal” drives the entire track and has nice velocity variation in the pattern. Jay Dee hi-pass filtered the hat pattern but kept the same groove to drive his track.

The original sample in Kraftwerk’s “Metal On Metal.”

How the sample was used.


J Dilla’s “30 (Unreleased)” samples Michal Urbaniak’s “Smiles Ahead.”

One of Jay Dee’s more subtle sampling choices was from Michal Urbaniak’s 1977 release “Smiles Ahead,” from which he took a vocal sweep in the track’s psychedelic breakdown. The vocals pitch bend to give a siren effect, and this is exactly how Jay Dee uses the sample in “30.” It’s not incorporated through the track like other samples he’s used, but it definitely adds a unique character that would be missing if the sample weren’t present.

The original sample from Michal Urbaniak’s “Smiles Ahead.”

How the sample was used.

Stay tuned for part 4 of “Around the World with Jay Dee” where we’ll continue exploring Europe, from the lush synths of Greece’s Vangelis to the Italo-disco grooves of Giorgio Moroder.

November 2, 2018