This month, as with every February for over a decade, rap fans far and wide celebrate the life and work of the late hip-hop producer James “J Dilla” Yancey. In 2016, in addition to the usual mixtapes and freestyles, another tribute to the man’s legacy emerged online from a perhaps-unexpected place.
Jaubi, a collective of Indian classical musicians from Lahore, Pakistan, quietly uploaded a video on Youtube to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Dilla’s passing: a cover version of “Time: The Donut of the Heart” from Dilla’s final album Donuts. A sarangi plays the signature loop, tabla and vocals provide a surprising bounce and plaintive acoustic guitar chords add melodic cohesion. In 60 short seconds, the members of Jaubi take Dilla’s original and turn it into something wholly different, yet instantly recognizable.
According to Ali Riaz Baqar, Jaubi’s founder and guitarist, the cover was made quickly with…
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