Dilla’s unique take on a Donald Byrd classic! (audio)
Donald Byrd is probably one of the biggest unsung heroes in jazz music. Part of it might be because rather than going in an edgier direction like his peers like say, Miles Davis or Herbie Hancock, Donald Byrd was more than happy to make futuristic jazz-funk pop music (all helmed by the Mizell Brothers, who most notably wrote songs for the Jackson 5). And I don’t know about you, I love this shit.
All that being said, one of my favorite songs by Donald Byrd has to be Think Twice. There’s something about the layers of synths, keyboards, horns, drums and vocals all washing together to create this joyous musical collage of sound. And what’s amazing is for all that’s going on in this incredibly detailed song, it never feels overwhelmed; where one sound or instrument is fighting for its turn to speak. Not to mention this song is catchy as hell too.
Then there’s the Dilla version…
Dilla on his take of Think Twice strips the song down to its barest bones, keeping the essence of the original intact but definitely making it entirely his own. Where as the original has almost a proto-disco feel to it, Dilla makes a straight nu-soul version out of the song. It has the neck snapping drums, of course, some ambient jazz keys, and little horn punctuations to fill out the mix. Essentially, it’s a Dilla song through and through.
Normally I’d wrap things up by stating which one I prefer, but I don’t know if can do that this time around. While both share similar characteristics, they are largely two different songs that really have two very different vibes. Dilla’s version is sleek, minimal slice of soul. Byrd’s original composition is a classic that deserves more recognition. Either way, I think these two songs are going to make you day just a little bit better.