"This project came together organically. I had just bought some new equipment and wasn't really comfortable with my drum sounds, so I decided to loop someone else's... and who has better drums than J Dilla? I was looking for samples from my music collection and came across Fiona Apple's Tidal," beat-maker, writer, and social media personality Free (Lee) Tillman wrote within a recent email. "Throughout my life, I have been a recording engineer, a journalist, a rapper, a stand-up comedian, and a music video director. And I have had recognizable success in exactly zero of those things," Tillman writes within the Amazon description to his 2016 Kindle book, How to Fail at Everything: A Practical Guide for Coasting Through Life. On his Soundcloud page, Lee Tillman simply proclaims: "I make videos, I take pictures, I write Tweets, I write books," complete with links to his various platforms. Red Dillicious is billed as, "Dilla Drums + Fiona Apple Piano = Red Dillicious" and in addition to J Dilla and Fiona Apple samples, features intertwined vocal snippets from TV shows like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Search Party, Comedy Bang! Bang! and Documentary Now! While it's currently unspecified as to where the Dilla drums breaks were sourced, Tillman used nine tracks from Fiona Apple's critically-acclaimed 1996 debut, Tidal—with the exception of opener "Sleep to Dream" ("Sleep")—as well as Apple's Blake Mills-produced "Container" penned for Showtime's 2014 drama series, The Affair. It ends up sounding like something to the effect of an imagined Dirty Projectors album produced by ?uestlove and Soulquarians off-shoot The Ummah AKA J Dilla and A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip & Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Red Dillicious, as well as Free Tillman's 30-track follow-up PRIMO, is currently available on Soundcloud and Bandcamp on a Name-Your-Price basis.
"I've been a fan of hers since that album debuted in '96. I always loved her piano playing and how she used her voice, so I knew I could find some great sounds. First, I chopped up the piano from her solo at the end of "Sleep to Dream." It sounded pretty good, so I moved on to the next song. I looped up the next Dilla drum track and thought to myself, "I can't just keep sampling Dilla;" then, I thought again, "what if ALL I did was sample Dilla?" I though about a mixtape Black Milk put out a couple years ago called Music from The Color Purple, where he used nothing but Prince records. So, as an exercise, I tried to make a beat from every song from Tidal using nothing but J Dilla drum beats. In the end, the first song I made didn't make the cut, but I felt like everything else was worth sharing, so threw it up on Bandcamp and other people seem to like it, too. Go figure."
- Free (Lee) Tillman