Last night Black Star performed on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon but I fell asleep. Thank goodness for the Internet otherwise I would’ve forever missed their performance of “Little Brother” and, more importantly, Questlove sharing the song’s intriguing backstory on the show’s site.
As the story goes, J Dilla spent four hours re-working the Roy Ayers’ sample with plans to discard the beat because it was already used by Pete Rock on “In The House” with C.L. Smooth. However, Dilla didn’t want the beat to see the light of day, according to Quest. It goes to show the character of James Yancey to toil over a beat for the hell of it and then treat it as dispensable. Luckily, Questlove’s insistence got the beat recorded on cassette and the track ultimately fell into the hands of Talib Kweili and the artist formerly known as Mos Def, then transformed into the song “Little Brother.”
To get a better grasp of what Questlove is breaking down, here are the songs in discussion: Roy Ayers Ubiquity’s “Ain’t Got Time” (sample at 0:36) and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s “In The House” (Pete Rock’s use in outro at 5:05).
I was surprised that the folks at Late Night decided to take the time to film the song’s history. Perhaps someone at NBC loves J Dilla and for that I want to shake that person’s hand. Below, watch Black Star perform the Dilla-produced “Little Brother” live on LNWJF.