Original art by DJ 2D2
Today would have marked the 38th birthday of my favorite hip-hop producer of all time – Jay Dee aka J Dilla. His life was cut tragically short by a battle with Lupus but he left an indelible mark on the music world and my own personal listening experience that I will be forever grateful for. After getting over the initial shock and impact of his death in 2006 I felt the need to put together a fitting tribute to a man who was much loved by music heads the world over but who never got his just due amongst the larger music community. Fortunately my guys Dave Park and Brandon Wall at Prefixmag gave me full license to bulid what became the highlight of my music journalism career. Using MySpace (seriously) and my contacts at the time (with special help from the guys at Stones Throw + original Slum Village member, Bling47 founder and Detroit legend Waajeed) I was able to get many great quotes from people either directly related to Dilla or who had been touched by his music. My man in Barcelona, Spain DJ 2D2, one of the biggest Dilla fans in the world, gave the piece a nice assist by providing some dope original artwork. The piece was created under very sad circumstances but I was proud of its ability to properly frame Dilla’s importance and influence on so many. It was featured on the Stones Throw front page for well over a month and was one of Prefix’s most clicked and referenced pieces for several years. Since his passing it has become trendy to profess love for Dilla, but for those of us who were fans from the first time we heard one of his signature snares and let his production soundtrack a crucial part of our lives he will always have a special place in our hearts and his presence will be felt forever.
Some highlights from my personal collection.
I’ve been fortunate to go to some of the Dilla tributes over the years hosted by the likes of House Shoes, Waajeed, DJ Spinna, Questlove and Q-Tip where you can feel that his music is still alive the second you walk in the room. And if you need a crash course in everything Jay Dee look no further than the legendary Thank You Jay Dee series put together by J Rocc. RIP Dilla.