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MOS DEF big band DILLA TRIBUTE : “It’s Professor Def to You

Mos Def A2 Dilla

The University of Michigan’s Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration ended with the dawning of a new era, Professor Mighty Mos Def The Ultra-Magnetic M.C. stood proud as he received his visiting professor award from the University. He was not there to celebrate an academic accomplishment, but the life of J Dilla.

As we reach the two-year anniversary of his death, 3,400 students and fans filled the Hill Auditorium on UofM campus in Ann Arbor, MI to pay tribute to one of the greatest producer’s of our time. The “J-Dilla Changed My Life” t-shirts flooded the crowd as they danced and recited the chorus of “MC²”, “Ms. Fat Booty” (Dilla Mix), “The Stakes Is High” and many Slum Village favorites from the “Fantastic, Vol. 2″ LP and other Dilla favs along with the Detroit-coined phrase, “That’s wassup!”

Accompanied by a band which he later named, Watermelon, Def allowed listeners hear Dilla in a different light. Imagine hearing one of your favorite Dilla songs without the DJ to blend in the beat, but just a raw live band improvising to duplicate the feeling you got the first time you realized that what he did was unique. Ma Dukes said this is how her son wanted his music to be heard – with a live band… long live Jay Dee!

— Nina Mo for Fusicology.

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One of Detroit’s true unsung heroes – a technical wizard with an ear for good soul music – Ron Murphy of Sound Enterprises / National Sound Corporation / Archer Record Pressings, located on Detroit’s west side, died this past weekend of a heart attack. He was 59. A native Detroiter, Murphy owned vinyl mastering & cutting equipment as vintage as the 1930s, and was employed by Motown and other ’60s & ’70s Soul/R&B labels to master and cut records for artists such as Marvin Gaye, Eddie Kendricks, and Isaac Hayes. He sat in on many a session to man boards @ the infamous United Sound Studios in Detroit’s New Center area during this hey-day.
The ’80s & ’90s would find Murphy mastering break-out anthems for the first time for the city’s House/Techno pioneers such as Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Mike Banks, Richie Hawtin… and eventually any prolific producer thereafter in Detroit. That golden moment of watching your very first record get pressed, or picking up your first box of your very own vinyl, was shared by nearly every producer in Detroit and 1 person – Ron Murphy.
As Detroit MetroTimes writer, Hobey Echlin, says: His career could be described as standing in the shadows of the shadows of Motown.” Murphy is truly one of the key architects of the Detroit Sound. Who will cut everyone’s masters now? Read Echlin’s full story in the Detroit MetroTimes here. –> http://www.metrotimes.com/blahg/journal_item.asp?journalid=262
Ron Murphy

Almost 3 years ago, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Detroit Electronic Quarterly magazine, Vince Patricola aka DJ Shortround, had the opportunity to visit with Murphy in his home and mastering workshop, in order to interview Ron for the first time in a very long time about his part in engineering the Detroit Sound. Patricola says this about why he felt is was important to feature Murphy in the premiere issue of DEQ magazine in 2005:
I was looking for the first DEQ magazine interviews back in 2005. I was talking to Patrick Russell and Mike Himes and both said Ron Murphy is due for a feature story. I had heard of him but did not fully realize what work was involved and how much help he was in making the artists’ vinyl sound so good.”
“Like many people, I often took this goodness for granted. Mike Himes and I went to his home and vinyl cutting workshop. I was amazed at the number of records thumbtacked to the wood paneling on the walls. It was a full range of producers from all over the world, not just Detroit.”
“He was busy, but gave us a full hour and a half talking shop. I learned so much that day not only about the vinyl mastering process, but about pursuing in life what you love doing. Ron loved his family and friends. He also loved vinyl… cutting and mastering it with such care. Ears and hearts will miss Ron dearly. -VP
*Get your limited edition back-issue copy of DEQ v.I Issue I @ http://www.detroitEQ.com .
Written by Jocelyne Ninneman for Fusicology.

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