Questlove to executive produce a new J Dilla documentary

Summer of Soul director, Roots drummer, and all-around creative visionary Questlove (Ahmir Thompson) is set to executive produce a J Dilla documentary, Dilla Time, which is based on Dan Charnas' book of the same name. It was co-directed by Joseph Patel and Darby Wheeler. The announcement reads:

Thompson's Two One Five Entertainment is partnering with his “Summer of Soul” producer, Joseph Patel, New York Times bestselling author Dan Charnas, Cinetic Media, and Scenario Media to develop the documentary, which will be produced in cooperation with the estate of James Dewitt Yancey (aka J Dilla).

"The estate of James Dewitt Yancey, and its 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 amazing project created by discerning and talented filmmakers who knew J Dilla. 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 endorsed.”

“Dilla Time” is based on the New York Times bestseller, “Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, The Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm” by Dan Charnas. The book tells the story of the complicated life of the Detroit-born artist, who died at 32 of a rare blood disease. It also advances a crucial new theory about the seismic impact that Dilla’s time-bending manipulations of the drum machine had on modern pop music.

Dilla’s major musical contribution lives on in the memories and compositions of some of pop music’s biggest names. This includes his collaborators from hip-hop’s golden era, Questlove, Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, Common, and Erykah Badu, major producers such as Ye, Dr. Dre, and Pharrell, and critically acclaimed acts of a new generation like Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, and Hiatus Kaiyote.

The documentary will be part biography, part musicology, and part musical meditation, featuring insight from some of the most influential and innovative voices of modern music.

“Explaining musical genius is my mission. To be able to tell the world about the musician that had the most influence on me is a dream come true,” says Questlove. “Not just on me, but on an entire generation of musicians that everyone knows and loves. J Dilla was our teacher. And what he taught us was how to feel rhythm in a way we had ever felt before. I’m so honored to be a part of bringing his story to the world through this documentary.”

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (director of the 2022 Oscar-winning documentary “Summer of Soul,” and a forthcoming documentary on Sly Stone) will serve as executive producer of “Dilla Time,” along with his producing partners Zarah Zolhman, Shawn Gee, and Tariq Trotter of Two One Five Entertainment. Joseph Patel (producer of “Summer of Soul”), Dan Charnas (“Dilla Time”), and Rodrigo Bascuñán, Darby Wheeler and Anupa Mistry (Scenario Media, Netflix’s “Hip-Hop Evolution”), are set to produce. Dana O’Keefe and Cinetic Media will executive produce. The film will be co-directed by Joseph Patel and Darby Wheeler.

Stay tuned for more on the film. You can pick up the Dilla Time book here.