It’s easy to take for granted the easy access to rarities and behind-the-scenes tidbits that were once impossible to hear, especially with so much music being created, shared and stored digitally these days. Skillz (aka Mad Skillz), a veteran Virginia rap artist, has uploaded a rare treasure: The original instrumentals for Skillz’s breakout songs “It’s Goin’ Down” and “The Jam,” as well as the one for The Pharcyde’s 1995 fan-favorite “Runnin‘,” were supplied to him by Detroit production superstar J Dilla on a cassette tape.
Skillz discovered the cassette over the weekend, snapped a photo, posted it to Instagram, and tagged Q-Tip in his joy at discovering a one-of-a-kind, historical object. Because cassette tape, unlike digital forms, degrades over time and the casing might become broken, Skillz had to do “surgery” on the cassette (as he put it in his Instagram Story documenting his discovery). After repairing the tape, he was able to digitize it and share its contents, which included previously unseen samples as well as tracks from some of Dilla’s most well-known beats, including “Runnin’,” which revealed how the song was transformed from its original incarnation to the version heard on the LA group’s album Labcabincaliforn.