Legendary Hip Hop Producer James “J Dilla” Dewiit Yancey, R.I.P.

If you know Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, Erikah Badu, The Roots, and Common then you’ve probably heard of the name “J Dilla” or “Jay Dee”. Real name James Dewiit Yancey and born in Detroit, Michigan, J DIlla would have been 44 years old this week and passed away three days after his 32nd birthday on February 10, 2006. On this anniversary of his passing we take a look at his work and influence on the hip hop music industry.

As a rapper and hip hop producer, J DIlla emerged from the underground scenes of hip hop inD Detroit to work on chart topping hits with many famous names in the industry. Countless tributes have been paid to him by his friends, and colleagues like Snoop Dogg were left wanting the opportunity to work with him. Those closest to him knew J Dilla as being humble and taking care of his family and friends. One interesting anecdote tells of how J Dilla would take his friends Christmas shopping for their families. He never forgot his roots. DJ Jazzy Jeff credits him as being completely unrestrained when it came to his music, and nonconformist to industry standards. Even when his health confined him to a wheelchair, J Dilla continued to do what he loved, performing on tour in Europe during 2005 from said wheelchair. James Dewiit Yancey will live on in the heart of many and we are lucky enough to have his music to still enjoy and inspire the artists of today.

Last year the estate of J Dilla released his album “The Diary”. You can listen to the album in it’s entirety on YouTube:

J DIlla also released experimental tracks like “Nothing Like This” on his album “Ruff Draft” (worth the download with 24 tracks):

In 2013, Fuse released this compilation of the words from family and peers and his influence on the music industry, in this edition of Crate Diggers:

Around the same time that NWA had released their single “F*ck the Police”, J Dilla released a track by the same name at the petition of his own mother, as a protest against police profiling and violence against young black men.

Phife from A Tribe Called Quest recorded this tribute to J DIlla:

Common produceed “The Light” with the help of J Dilla, a significant track in both their careers:

J Dilla produced this luxury tack from Erykah Badu, ” Didn’t Cha Know”:

J Dilla’s “The Diary” has also been released with vocals from artists like Snoop Dogg: