Many will have heard the tragic news that one of the greatest producers of our time, hip hop or otherwise, has passed away, aged 32.
J Dilla was a huge favourite of mine, from his early work with the Tribe, Slum Village and Pharcyde crews through to his work with Madlib and Stones Throw. He was as humble as he was influential and groundbreaking, with a feel for real soul music. His death is so fucking sad – what a huge hole it has left in the world of music. However, he was such a prolific writer, and he has left us many hours and hours of beats and rhymes to enjoy for a long time to come. Rest in peace, Dilla.
This report from Pitchfork Media:
James Yancey, the man known to the hip-hop world as Jay Dee and J Dilla, passed away Friday morning at his home in Los Angeles. He was 32 years old.
His label, Stones Throw, said in a statement, “He had been suffering for over three years with a rare and incurable blood disease. A year ago he was also diagnosed with lupus. He was in and out of the hospital this past year but managed to work right up until this past week. He was with his mother Maureen Yancey and a brother when he passed.”
“A public viewing (closed casket) will take place Monday, February 13, 2006, 4:30 pm – 9:00 pm, at Forest Lawn Memorial Parks and Mortuaries, 1712 South Glendale Avenue, Glendale, CA 91205. A private funeral will follow.”
J Dilla’s latest album, Donuts, released on Tuesday, was partially recorded in the hospital using a portable studio.
Jay Dee began his career as a member of the Ummah, A Tribe Called Quest’s production team. He would go on to make beats for Common, Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, Pharcyde, and many others. He was a member of Slum Village, collaborated with Madlib as Jaylib, and put out several acclaimed solo albums, mixes, and singles. Pharrell Williams once called Jay Dee his favorite hip-hop producer.
For more on Jay Dee’s musical legacy, see today’s Track Reviews.
Peter Adarkwah, the founder of BBE Records, which released Jay Dee’s 2001 solo album Welcome 2 Detroit, said in a statement: “Jay was one of my favorite Hip-Hop producers of all time. His passion for music was a rare thing amongst people in the music industry. His music and presence will be sorely missed for many years to come.”
According to Stones Throw, 2006 should bring two more Jay Dee albums, The Shining, due out on BBE, and Jay Love Japan, expected on Operation Unknown. He also recently completed production work for Madlib, Ghostface Killah, Busta Rhymes, MF Doom, Truth Hurts, and others.