Oscar-winner Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson has lined up his next project – a documentary on the late groundbreaking hip hop producer J Dilla (James Dewitt Yancey).
Thompson, who won the Academy Award earlier this year for directing Summer of Soul, will executive produce Dilla Time, 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. Joseph Patel, who produced Summer of Soul (along with with Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein) will co-direct Dilla Time with Darby Wheeler.
Thompson’s Two One Five Entertainment, Cinetic Media, and Scenario Media are among the production partners on the film, which enjoys the approval of Yancey’s survivors. Dilla died in 2006 at the age of 32 from a rare blood disorder.
“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,” the estate said in a statement. “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.”
According to a release about the project, “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.” It will also touch on “the seismic impact that Dilla’s time-bending manipulations of the drum machine had on modern pop music.”
Questlove is part of a select group of high-profile artists who worked with Dilla, a list that includes Dr. Dre, Pharrell Williams, Ye [Kanye West], Common, Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, Common, and Erykah Badu.
“Explaining musical genius is my mission,” Questlove said in a statement. “To be able to tell the world about the musician that had the most influence on me is a dream come true. 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.”
In addition to Dilla Time, Questlove is working on a documentary about Sly Stone, who featured prominently in Summer of Soul. His fellow executive producers on Dilla Time include Zarah Zolhman, Shawn Gee, and Tariq Trotter of Two One Five Entertainment. Dana O’Keefe and Cinetic Media also executive produce. Patel, Charnas, and Rodrigo Bascuñán, Darby Wheeler, and Anupa Mistry of Scenario Media are set to produce.
No expected release date has been announced.