"Beats, Rhymes & Life": Hip-Hoppers Remember J Dilla
Also known as Jay Dee (born James Dewitt Yancey), the Detroit native passed away after a battle with Lupus.
Besides creating signature soundscapes for artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Common, and his own group SlumVillage, among others, Dilla was also a rapper. He has amassed legions of dedicated fans including platinum-selling beatmakers The Neptunes' Pharrell Williams and Kanye West, with whom he worked with on Common's grammy-nominated album Be.
"Some days I felt like I wasn't even in the same league with the guy," 9th Wonder, Little Brother's producer who has also worked with Jay-Z and Destiny's Child, told SOHH. "His work ethic, persistence and genius work says it all. I felt like he, along with Pete Rock and DJ Premier, was looking over my shoulder every record I listened to, and every beat I made... Funny thing is, although we were and will always be connected somehow, I never even had the pleasure to meet or talk to him."
Ghostface Killah, who recently worked with Dilla on his upcoming album, Fishscale, was also touched by his passing. "I respect his work period... Another good brother is lost in hip-hop."
Last night (February 14), Conscious, founder of freehiphopnow.com held a tribute to J Dilla in NYC. Fans showed up at all hours of Valentine's night to pay tribute to the man while rotating DJs showcased his work.
"Plainly put, most people would consider the man a beatmaker, but nah he was a little bit more than that, actually he was a musician," Conscious told SOHH. "I think he made music until it killed him."
DJ Polarity, a fan who was also at the event added, "There was actual heart involved in what Dilla did, whether it was Slum Village, De La [Soul], or whoever you know throughout the years he always had something that was a cut above the rest. It was real tragic that he passed away nonetheless he's gonna live on through his music... I'm gonna keep remembering him for what he did for the craft, and also what he did for the people, giving them a new sound. Dilla will be remembered by millions."
Judging from last night's event and the other tributes thrown throughout the world, Detroit soulchild J Dilla is destined to live on. Conscious says he even plans on throwing an annual tribute on Dilla's birth date (February 7).
"He gave me a real, real nice one," Ghost said. Word... That sums it up best.
James Dewitt Yancey (1974-2006) R.I.P