by Alex P80 Parks
James Dewitt Yancey would have turned 45 on February 7th 2019. To commemorate Jay Dilla’s birthday and everlasting legacy in hip hop, beat creator Free Mind has made Donut Of The Soul: A Tribute to J Dilla, an instrumental album paying homage to the stylings of the late Dilla.
Free Mind: “Dilla’s music took me places in my heart and mind. Since a kid, I was hooked”
From Watts, Los Angeles, producer Free Mind has created some soulful arrangements and crafted many unique beats and vibrant soundscapes. Though he grew up in LA, He was influenced less by the “gangsta g-funk” of 90’s West Coast artists and more by the stylings of producers like Dilla, 9th Wonder, Premo, Nottz, Alchemist, Hi-Tek, Madlib, and Havoc. Free Mind continues to elevate his craft and work with some of Hip Hop’s elite MC’s. Most recently, notable collaborations and placements with artists like WestSide Gunn, Supreme Cerebral and Recognize Ali have put Free Mind’s beats into the ears of more listeners and expanded his global appeal.
All the tracks on Donut of the Soul utilize rich soul samples, but Free Mind forms these beats into some distinct moods throughout the project. Tracks like “Slow Down,” “Internal Compass,” “Reconcilable Differences” and “One Last Dozen” are jubilant and uplifting. Joints like “Soul Angel” and “Position as a Man” use the soul samples to convey a more warm and loving feeling.
On tracks like “Reflection“, Free flips the O’Jays “Who am I” to create a pensive and poignant feel to the beat. Other tracks like “Be there” also create a slightly morose vibe.
In Free Mind’s Beats, it’s the feeling captured, not a message or a conceptual topic to adhere to. Free Mind builds his sonic creations to fulfill an emotional need, a void. Dilla sought to create music like that as well, constantly appealing to the emotions of the listeners.
Dilla ceratinly would have appreciated the way Free Mind chops his samples. It’s where he chops them too; Short chops, indicative of the sampling techniques Dilla used on many of his beats, creating rhythmic elements from the chopped vocal samples.
FM: “I don’t approach my music with too much thought. I go with what I feel. I chop the sample, find some dope drums and go in. I will say this, though, I do my best to make sure that he would be proud of what I am doing.“
FM: “I’ve always wanted to make a tape for Dilla, but just didn’t know when I would do it. Since this is my very last beat tape, it’s only right that I do it for Dilla and release on his birthday and also the day his last beat tape was released.”
With this latest effort, Free Mind delivers his tribute to Dilla across 12 finely crafted tracks. Bringing a warmth with the selected soul samples on this project, Free Mind uses Dilla-esque loops and chops to create a vibe that Jay Dee himself would Most definitely be proud of.
pre-order the album now, out Feb 7th here: