Southfield Public Library presents Dilla Time with author Dan Charnas May 24

May 15, 2023

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The Southfield Public Library will host Dilla Time with author Dan Charnas on Wednesday, May 24 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Road.

During the event, bestselling author, award-winning music and business journalist, records and television producer and Professor Dan Charnas will be joined in conversation with Albert Hayes, J. Dilla's uncle to give a unique and rarely-heard perspective on J. Dilla’s upbringing and successful trajectory. Books will be available for sale and signing courtesy of BookBeat.

"We are excited to have Dan Charnas visiting the Southfield Library,” commented Outreach Librarian Kelly Rembert. “J. Dilla was an icon in the Detroit music scene and his influence is felt far and wide.  Having J. Dilla's uncle Al here to tell about the man behind the music will be a great opportunity.”  

Charnas’s latest book: Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, The Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm was released in 2022 and is a New York Times Bestseller and the winner of the 2023 Pen/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography.  Equal parts biography, musicology, and cultural history, Dilla Time chronicles the life and legacy of J. Dilla, a musical genius who transformed the sound of popular music for the twenty-first century by pioneering a new musical time-feel with only his drum machine. Born James Dewitt Yancey, J Dilla’s beats redefined the genre of hip hop and produced a following that lauded him as one of the greatest musical minds of the past century.  J. Dilla’s genius emerged from a life lived in Detroit, and from a family with long roots here.

For Charnas, the process of writing Dilla Time required four years of research during which time he conducted nearly 200 interviews. Dilla Time emerged from a course on J. Dilla developed by Charnas when he taught at New York University in 2017, but its roots go back to Charnas’s time in the record business, when he first made the trip to Detroit to work with the producer then known as Jay Dee.

This event is presented as part of the Library of Michigan’s 2023 Michigan Notable Books Author Tour. It follows Charnas event on May 23 at 6 p.m. at the Detroit Public Library main branch, where he will be joined by Author/Executive Director, Coleman A. Young Foundation Khary Kimani Turner.

The Michigan Notable Books program is designed to promote reading, Michigan authors, and stories by annually selecting 20 titles that best reflect the diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experiences in the state. “The Michigan Notable Books selections clearly demonstrates the diverse tapestry of subject matter that Michigan offers to inspire writers,” said State Librarian Randy Riley. “Everyone will find an author tour stop of interest that speaks to their lives or experiences in our great state.”

The 2023 Michigan Notable Books program and Author Tour is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Library of Michigan, the Library of Michigan Foundation, Michigan Humanities, Michigan Center for the Book, EBSCO, and MSU Federal Credit Union. For additional sponsors, please visit the Library of Michigan Foundation’s website at