Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dilla's dead

Image hosting by PhotobucketJ Dilla died yesterday at the age of 32 from complications related to Lupus.

James Yancy aka Jay Dee aka J Dilla first came to my attention as a part of the Umma collective of producers who worked on a Tribe Called Quest's farewell album back in 1997.

Over the years he has been one of the many influential hip hop producers on the underground scene but never seemed to become one of the big names. Dude was strictly underground, raw, not commercial. He was never a top 10 radio producer like Dr Dre, Jazze Pha, Timbaland or Pharrell or those guys you see in the limelight but he was just one of the guys who the guys in the know checked for. He brought that head nodding vibe without the glamour and glitz. To paraphrase Tip he was in the cut call him incognito, Busy makin joints that will bump for the people.

Cant say that I checked for all his work (although some of my boys are big Slum Village fans I never really felt it that deeply) but just going through liner notes or seeing his name mentioned as producer on some obscure track on some obscure underground mc's album was somehow cool like oh this cats got Jay Dee producing maybe he's worth a listen.

He has produced for such notable artists as Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes, A Tribe called Quest, Black Star, Pharcyde, De La, Common with whom he did some of his best work on the Like Water for Chocolate album and he released the Champion Sound lp along with fellow underground artist/producer Madlib a few years back.

He was a former member of Slum Village (those cats with the new General Motors ad that runs like a music video), in fact their most well known member until he left the group a few years back, and produced most of their earlier work including Fantastic Vol 1 and 2. Heads be always comparing that Slum Village work to the old Tribe stuff (much like they are doing with Little Brother today) but you got to give Dilla his props cause he had his own sound.

Image hosting by PhotobucketKind of funny just this week I was telling my wife that I was trying to find homeboy's album. Well not trying to find since I knew where to get it, its just I was trying to find it at a price that appealed to me which had led to a foray into numerous record stores in an effort to find the best deal (Still haven't bought it yet actually).

So I know that most, the average person when they think Hip hop thinks 50, Jay Z, Eminem or whatever else is popular on BET and the radio these days but cats like Dilla that was where the real hip hop resided and why cats like me could still say without it being a lie that Hip hop aint all that bad. Yea the fun stuff, the non-aggressive, non obscene, non-shake your tailfeather, non-hard out there for a pimp, non-20 video girls in tiny bikini stuff may not get the airplay or the public attention but it does exist and in greater abundance than one may think. J dilla represented that. Not the gangsta, thug machismo aesthetic, but as my man Obi would say just beats, rhymes and life.

Rest in Peace Dilla.


Inside Man said...

This saddens my heart very much. Jay Dee was a very talented producer and kept hip hop true with timeless boom bap. He will be missed.


princessdominique said...

Sad to hear about that. I was just talking to the husband about lupus last night. I guess I need to do some research.

ThandieLand said...

Did not know of him b/c i don't pay close attention to the producers and writers etc. But from your info I would have to say hiphop lost one of its foot soldiers. RIP J. Dilla

But is it me or is Lupus becoming the new sickle cell anemia among black folk? Recently I am hearing about quite a few ppl being affected by lupus or dying from it.

Rose said...

So sorry to hear this. I have an employee who suffers from lupus and the episodes are difficult.

brooklyn babe said...

Talented fellow, who was still making music from his hospital bed.

Guyana-Gyal said...

One day, I hope, the internet will help make music that is not heard, get heard. It will do what the radio and tv ain't doing.

It is sad when good creative people.

This was a well written post, JDid.

obifromsouthlondon said...

yeah it's a shame dilla passed away so young. Death, the great leveller. Jdid thx for the link. Todd Kelley dropped a killa tribute to Dilla:

29 cuts of pure JDilla