“It was a very surreal moment when we heard Dilla had died. The most ironic thing was we were all in Los Angeles recording, we had formed a new supergroup: ?uestlove, Wendy & Lisa from Prince’s Revolution, Mike Elizondo – who did all the basslines for Dr. Dre – and a guitar player called Doyle Bramhall and Jazzy Jeff. We said we’re going to be a supergroup and we were hanging out in LA and got that call. Wow.
We express ourselves through music and that day we recorded this song “Telephone” that eventually went on my New Amerykah Part I album. It was based on a story Dilla’s mother told me. Dilla would hallucinate often – I don’t know if it was morphine or whatever painkiller he was on – but he would be talking to someone when nobody was there. His mom would ask who he was talking to and he’d say, “Ol’ Dirty Bastard.” Dirty had passed a couple of years earlier.
“So what was he saying?” “He was telling me what bus to get on when I cross over. He said, ‘Don’t get on the red bus, get on the white bus. The red bus looks fun, but that’s not the one.’” So Dilla’s mother told me that and when we were in the studio the night we heard about his passing, we paid homage to him, resting in beats, by writing that song.
“It’s Ol’ Dirty, wants to give you directions home, says it won’t be too long.”
Read the full interview on Erykah Badhu’s time with Dilla here.