Third Annual Dilla Day NOLA to breathe life into local hip-hop scene

Colin Mahar, Staff Reporter

This Saturday, Pont:Productions and The SoundCLASH will host the third Annual Dilla Day NOLA at Gasa Gasa. The event will feature a selection of local New Orleans artists including Meta//quirk, AF the Naysayer and many others, who will perform covers and original compositions that pay tribute to the legendary hip-hop producer J Dilla.

Known for his innovative production techniques and mesmerizing sense of sound, J Dilla is highly revered and viewed in the hip-hop community as one of the most singularly influential artists in the genre. Before he died tragically at the age of 32 from a blood disease, Dilla worked alongside countless highly acclaimed acts such as The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest and Janet Jackson.

“We wanted to help educate people [about J Dilla] to bring the behind-the-scenes genius producer to the forefront,” said Jocelyne Ninneman, the co-producer of the event. 

Ninneman, who was born and raised in Dilla’s hometown of Detroit, has worked closely in the past with the Yancey Foundation, an organization started by the late producer’s mother to host similar events. Each artist performing at Dilla Day NOLA was hand-picked by Ninneman and her co-host El “On-Point El” Williams for their dedication to keeping the Dilla legacy alive though his inspiration in their own music.

“If Dilla Day NOLA was going to happen,” Ninneman said, “I wanted to make sure that the roots would be authentic.”

Williams and Ninneman decided to bring Dilla Day to New Orleans in an attempt to reach the core of hip-hop artists and fans in the city who have been touched by Dilla’s music.

“I love J Dilla because I love hip-hop,” Williams said. “If we don’t produce [events like Dilla Day] here, then fans are going to have to go somewhere else.”

In a city with a musical culture as rich as that of New Orleans, Williams claims that fans shouldn’t have to travel to places like Atlanta, New York or Detroit in order to appreciate a seminal artist like J Dilla. Dilla Day NOLA is a way to give that underground community of fans a voice and to widen the array of musical influences that will shape the future of New Orleans hip-hop. A portion of the ticket sales go to local youth musical programs, NOLA mix and NOYSE, which give kids the opportunity to learn the basics of electronic music production and beat-making.