J Dilla

J Dilla

Biography

James Dewitt Yancey (February 7, 1974 – February 10, 2006), better known by the stage names J Dilla and Jay Dee, was a hip-hop record producer who emerged from the mid-1990s underground hip-hop scene in Detroit, Michigan.

In 1992, he met experienced Detroit musician Amp Fiddler, who was impressed by what Jay Dee was able to accomplish with such limited tools. Amp Fiddler let Jay Dee use his MPC, which he learned quickly. In 1995, Jay Dee and MC Phat Kat formed 1st Down, and would be the first Detroit hip hop group to sign with a major label (Payday Records) - a deal that was ended after one single when the label folded. That same year he recorded "Yester Years EP" with 5 Elementz (a group consisting of Proof, Thyme and Mudd). In the year 1996, he formed the group Slum Village with T3 and Baatin, and recorded the group's debut, "Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1)" in his home studio. Being released in 1997, the album quickly became popular with fans of Detroit hip hop, as well as gaining the attention of Q-Tip, who hailed the group as successors to A Tribe Called Quest. However, J Dilla felt uncomfortable with the comparison and often voiced it in several interviews.

By the mid-1990s Jay Dee was known as a major hip hop prospect, with a string of singles and remix projects, for Janet Jackson, Pharcyde, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip's solo album and others. The majority of these productions were released without his name recognition, being credited to The Ummah, a production collective composed of Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest, and later Raphael Saadiq of Tony! Toni! Toné!. Under this umbrella, Jay did some of his most big name R&B and hip hop work, churning out original songs and remixes for Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes, Brand New Heavies, Something For the People, trip hop artists Crustation and many others. This all came off the heels of Jay handling the majority of production on The Pharcyde's album "Labcabincalifornia", released in the holiday season of 1995. Jay Dee's largest-scale feat came in 1997 when he produced Janet Jackson's Grammy winning single "Got 'til It's Gone" from "The Velvet Rope". The song-writing credit and subsequent Grammy were both given to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

His debut as a solo artist came in 2001 with the single "Fuck the Police", followed by the album "Welcome 2 Detroit", which kicked off U.K. Independent record label BBE's "Beat Generation" series. In 2001, Jay Dee began using the name "J Dilla" (an attempt to differentiate himself from Jermaine Dupri who also goes by "J.D."), and left Slum Village to pursue a major label solo career with MCA Records in 2002. Although J Dilla was known as a producer rather than an MC, he chose to rap on the album and have the music produced by some of his favorite producers such as Madlib, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, Supa Dave West, Kanye West, Nottz, Waajeed, Quebo Kuntry (J.Benjamin) and others. The album was shelved due to internal changes at the label and MCA. While the record with MCA stalled, Dilla recorded the uncompromising "Ruff Draft", released exclusively to vinyl by German label Groove Attack. Although the album was little known, it signaled a change in sound and attitude, and his work from this point on was increasingly released through independent record labels.

J Dilla's illness and medication caused dramatic weight loss in 2003 onwards, forcing him to publicly confirm speculation about his health in 2004. Despite a slower output of major releases and production credits in 2004 and 2005, his cult status remained strong within his core audience, as evident by unauthorized circulation of his underground "beat tapes" (instrumental, and raw working materials), mostly through internet file sharing. Articles in publications URB (March 2004) and XXL (June 2005) confirmed rumors of ill health and hospitalization during this period, but these were downplayed by Jay himself. The seriousness of his condition became public in November 2005 when J Dilla toured Europe performing from a wheelchair. It was later revealed that he suffered from thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare blood disease, and possibly lupus.

J Dilla died on February 10, 2006, three days after his 32nd birthday and the release of his final album "Donuts", at home in Los Angeles, California. According to his mother, Maureen Yancey, the cause was cardiac arrest.

Discography

Jay Dee Aka J Dilla - Welcome 2 Detroit

Jay Dee Aka J Dilla - Welcome 2 Detroit

BBE2001
Jay Dee - Vol. 1: Unreleased

Jay Dee - The Official Instrumental Series Vol. 1: Unreleased

Bling47 Recordings2003
Jaylib - Champion Sound

Jaylib - Champion Sound

Stones Throw Records2003
Jay Dee - Vol. 2: Vintage

Jay Dee - Vintage: Unreleased Instrumentals

Bling47 Recordings2004
Jay Dee - V.3

Jay Dee - V.3

Bling47 Recordings2005
J Dilla Jay Dee - Donuts

J Dilla - Donuts

Stones Throw Records2006
J Dilla - The Shining

J Dilla - The Shining

BBE2006
J Dilla - Jay Love Japan

J Dilla - Jay Love Japan

OX: Operation Unknown2007
J Dilla - Ruff Draft

J Dilla - Ruff Draft

Stones Throw Records2007
Jay Dee - Jay Deelicious: The Delicious Vinyl Years

Jay Dee - Deelicious: The Delicious Vinyl Years 95-98

Delicious Vinyl2007
Jaylib - Champion Sound (Deluxe Edition)

Jaylib - Champion Sound (Deluxe Edition)

Stones Throw Records2007
J Dilla - Jay Stay Paid

J Dilla - Jay Stay Paid

Nature Sounds2009
J Dilla - Donut Shop

J Dilla - Donut Shop

Stones Throw Records2010
J Dilla - Rebirth Of Detroit

J Dilla - Rebirth Of Detroit

Ruff Draft Records2012
J Dilla - The Lost Scrolls Vol. 1

J Dilla - The Lost Scrolls Vol. 1

Ruff Draft Records2013
J Dilla - Dillatroit

J Dilla - Dillatroit

Yancey Media Group2013
Dilla - Lost Tapes Reels + More

Dilla - Lost Tapes Reels + More

Mahogani Music2013
J Dilla - Give Em What They Want

J Dilla - Give Em What They Want

Stones Throw Records2014
J. Dilla - Rebirth Of Detroit Instrumentals

J. Dilla - Rebirth Of Detroit Instrumentals

Yancey Media Group LLC2014
Jay Dee A.K.A. J Dilla 'The King Of Beats' (Batch #1)

J Dilla - Jay Dee A.K.A. J Dilla 'The King Of Beats' (Batch #1)

Yancey Media Group LLC2015
J Dilla - Jay Dee A.K.A. J Dilla 'The King Of Beats' (Batch #2)

J Dilla - Jay Dee A.K.A. J Dilla 'The King Of Beats' (Batch #2)

Yancey Media Group LLC2015
J Dilla - Jay Dee A.K.A. J Dilla 'The King Of Beats' (Batch #3)

J Dilla - Jay Dee A.K.A. J Dilla 'The King Of Beats' (Batch #3)

Yancey Media Group LLC2015
J Dilla - Dillatronic

J Dilla - Dillatronic

Greenstreets Entertainment2015
J Dilla - The Diary

J Dilla - The Diary

Mass Appeal Records2016
J Dilla - Jay Dee's Ma Dukes Collection

J Dilla - Jay Dee's Ma Dukes Collection

Yancey Media Group LLC, Official Ma Dukes, Vintage Vibez Music Group2016
J Dilla - Motor City

J Dilla - Motor City

Ma Dukes Official, Vintage Vibez2017
J Dilla - J Dilla's Delights, Vol. 1

J Dilla - J Dilla's Delights, Vol. 1

Dilla's Girls2017

Guest Appearances

Amp Fiddler - Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly
  • You Play Me

Amp Fiddler - Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly

Genuine2003
Pete Rock - Soul Survivor II
  • Niggaz Know

Pete Rock - Soul Survivor II

Rapster Records2004
Slum Village - Detroit Deli (A Taste Of Detroit)
  • Reunion

Slum Village - Detroit Deli (A Taste Of Detroit)

Capitol Records2004
Phat Kat - The Undeniable
  • Door

Phat Kat - The Undeniable

Barak Records2004
MED - Push Comes To Shove
  • Push

MED - Push Comes To Shove

Stones Throw Records2005
SA-RA - The Second Time Around
  • Thrilla

SA-RA - The Second Time Around

Sound In Color2005
Lawless Element ‎- Soundvision: In Stereo
  • Love

Lawless Element ‎- Soundvision: In Stereo

Babygrande Records2005
Hi-Tek - Hi-Teknology²: The Chip
  • Music For Life

Hi-Tek - Hi-Teknology²: The Chip

Babygrande Records2006
Sa-Ra Creative Partners - The Hollywood Recordings
  • Thrilla

Sa-Ra Creative Partners - The Hollywood Recordings

Babygrande Records2007
Frank N Dank - The EP
  • Dilla Words (Skit)

Frank N Dank - The EP

Dopeness Galore2007
Madlib - Medicine Show No. 1: Before The Verdict
  • Young Guns

Madlib - Madlib Medicine Show # 1: Before The Verdict

Now Again Records2010
Slum Village - Villa Manifesto
  • Scheming

Slum Village - Villa Manifesto

Ne'Astra Music Group2010

Compilations

BR Gunna - Dirty District, Vol. 2
  • Do Our Thang

BR Gunna - Dirty District, Vol. 2

Ne'Astra Music2004
The Beat Generation
  • It's Like That

Various - The Beat Generation

Rapster Records2004
Peanut Butter Wolf Presents Stones Throw Ten Years
  • Two Can Win

Various - Peanut Butter Wolf Presents Stones Throw Ten Years

Stones Throw Records2006
Peanut Butter Wolf Presents Chrome Children
  • Nothing Like This

Various - Peanut Butter Wolf Presents Chrome Children

Stones Throw Records2006
Peanut Butter Wolf 2K8 B-Ball Zombie War
  • Light Working

Various - Peanut Butter Wolf's B Ball Zombie War

Stones Throw Records2007
Metal Fingerz Doom Presents Unexpected Guests
  • Fire Wood Drumstykx

Various - Metal Fingerz Doom Presents Unexpected Guests

Gold Dust Media2009
Dillanthology 3: Dilla's Productions
  • Glamour Sho75 (09)

Various - Dillanthology 3: Dilla's Productions

Rapster Records2009
Dillanthology: Dilla's Best
  • Crushin'

Various - Dillanthology: Dilla's Best

Rapster Records2009
Young RJ - The Detroit Project
  • Do Ya Thang

Young RJ - The Detroit Project

Ne'Astra Music2018

Production

The Katz - Come Fly With Me
  • I Dream For You

The Katz - Come Fly With Me

Fertile Records1996
5-Elementz - Yester Years
  • All Tracks

5-Elementz - Yester Years

That Was Entertainment1996
5 Elementz - The Album Time Forgot
  • Whutchawant

5 Elementz - The Album Time Forgot

That Was Entertainment1998
5 Ela - 5-E Pt. 3
  • You Aint Fresh

5 Ela - 5-E Pt. 3

That Was Entertainment1999
J-88 - Best Kept Secret
  • All Tracks

J-88 - Best Kept Secret

Groove Attack Productions2000
Slum Village - Fantastic Vol. 2
  • All Tracks

Slum Village - Fantastic Vol. 2

Good Vibe Recordings2000
Busta Rhymes - Genesis
  • Make It Hurt

Busta Rhymes - Genesis

J Records2001
Slum Village - Trinity (Past, Present And Future)
  • One

Slum Village - Trinity (Past, Present And Future)

Capitol Records2002
Common - Electric Circus
  • Soul Power

Common - Electric Circus

MCA Records2002
Talib Kweli - Quality
  • Stand To The Side

Talib Kweli - Quality

Rawkus2002
Busta Rhymes - It Ain't Safe No More...
  • It Ain't Safe No More

Busta Rhymes - It Ain't Safe No More...

J Records2002
Frank-N-Dank - 48 Hrs
  • All Tracks

Frank-N-Dank - 48 Hrs

Not On Label2003
The Beat Generation
  • It's Like That

Various - The Beat Generation

Rapster Records2004
Oh No - The Disrupt
  • Move

Oh No - The Disrupt

Stones Throw Records2004
Amp Fiddler - Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly
  • Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly

Amp Fiddler - Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly

Genuine2004
Slum Village - Detroit Deli (A Taste Of Detroit)
  • Do You

Slum Village - Detroit Deli (A Taste Of Detroit)

Capitol Records2004
De La Soul - The Grind Date
  • Verbal Clap

De La Soul - The Grind Date

Sanctuary Records2004
Phat Kat - The Undeniable
  • Dedication 2004

Phat Kat - The Undeniable

Barak Records2004
Proof Aka Derty Harry - I Miss The Hip Hop Shop
  • Bring It 2 Me

Proof Aka Derty Harry - I Miss The Hip Hop Shop

Iron Fist Records2004
Elzhi - Witness My Growth
  • Days And Nights

Elzhi - Witness My Growth

Libido Sounds2004
Common - Be
  • Love Is...

Common - Be

Geffen Records2005
MED - Push Comes To Shove
  • So Real

MED - Push Comes To Shove

Stones Throw Records2005
Moka Only - The Desired Effect
  • One Time

Moka Only - The Desired Effect

Battle Axe Records2005
Steve Spacek - Space Shift
  • Dollar

Steve Spacek - Space Shift

Sound In Color2005
Dwele - Some Kinda...
  • Keep On

Dwele - Some Kinda...

Virgin Records America2005
Dwight Trible & The Life Force Trio - Love Is The Answer
  • Antiquity

Dwight Trible & The Life Force Trio - Love Is The Answer

Ninja Tune2005
Lawless Element ‎- Soundvision: In Stereo
  • The Shining

Lawless Element ‎- Soundvision: In Stereo

Babygrande2005
Peanut Butter Wolf Presents Stones Throw Ten Years
  • Two Can Win

Various - Peanut Butter Wolf Presents Stones Throw Ten Years

Stones Throw Records2006
Busta Rhymes - The Big Bang
  • You Can't Hold The Torch

Busta Rhymes - The Big Bang

Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope Records2006
A.G. - Get Dirty Radio
  • Hip Hop Quotable

A.G. - Get Dirty Radio

Look Records2006
Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
  • Whip You With A Strap

Ghostface Killah - Fishscale

Def Jam Recordings2006
The Roots - Game Theory
  • Can't Stop This

The Roots - Game Theory

Def Jam Recordings2006
Peanut Butter Wolf Presents Chrome Children
  • Clap Your Hands

Various - Peanut Butter Wolf Presents Chrome Children

Stones Throw Records2006
Slum Village - Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1
  • All Tracks

Slum Village - Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1

Donut Boy Recordings2006
Various - Big Proof & Iron Fist Records Presents Hand 2 Hand: The Official Mixtape Instruction Manual
  • This That Heat

Various - Big Proof & Iron Fist Records Presents Hand 2 Hand: The Official Mixtape Instruction Manual

Iron Fist Records2006
Waajeed Presents The War L.P.
  • Busta

Various - Waajeed Presents The War L.P.

Octave, Fat City2007
Common - Finding Forever
  • So Far To Go

Common - Finding Forever

Getting Out Our Dreams, Geffen Records2007
Phat Kat - Carte Blanche
  • My Old Label

Phat Kat - Carte Blanche

Look Records2007
Akrobatik - Absolute Value
  • Put Ya Stomp On It

Akrobatik - Absolute Value

Fat Beats2008
Guilty Simpson - Ode To The Ghetto
  • I Must Love You

Guilty Simpson - Ode To The Ghetto

Stones Throw Records2008
Q-Tip - The Renaissance
  • Move

Q-Tip - The Renaissance

Universal Motown2008
Illa J - Yancey Boys
  • All Tracks

Illa J - Yancey Boys

Delicious Vinyl2008
DOOM - Born Like This
  • Lightworks

DOOM - Born Like This

Lex Records2009
Dynas - The Apartment
  • The Apartment

Dynas - The Apartment

BBE2009
Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II
  • House Of Flying Daggers

Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II

Ice H2O Records2009
Metal Fingerz Doom Presents Unexpected Guests
  • Fire Wood Drumstykx

Various - Metal Fingerz Doom Presents Unexpected Guests

Gold Dust Media2009
Mos Def - The Ecstatic
  • History

Mos Def - The Ecstatic

Downtown Music2009
Umi & Project Groundation Present I'm Just A Prisioner
  • Moment Of Truth

Various - Umi & Project Groundation Present I'm Just A Prisioner

Project Groundation2009
Finale - A Pipe Dream And A Promise
  • Heat

Finale - A Pipe Dream And A Promise

Interdependent Media2009
Dillanthology 1: Dilla's Productions For Various Artists
  • All Tracks

Various - Dillanthology 1: Dilla's Productions For Various Artists

Rapster Records2009
Dillanthology 2: Dilla's Remixes For Various Artists
  • Fall In Love (Jay Dee Remix)

Various - Dillanthology 2: Dilla's Remixes For Various Artists

Rapster Records2009
Dillanthology 3: Dilla's Productions
  • All Tracks

Various - Dillanthology 3: Dilla's Productions

Rapster Records2009
Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh
  • Love

Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh

Universal Motown2010
Slum Village - Villa Manifesto
  • Lock It Down

Slum Village - Villa Manifesto

E1 Entertainment2010
Slum Village - Fantastic Volume 2.10
  • Jealousy

Slum Village - Fantastic Vol. 2.10

Barak Records2010
Yancey Boys - Sunset Blvd.
  • All Tracks

Yancey Boys - Sunset Blvd.

Delicious Vinyl, Yancey Media Group2013
J Dilla - Give Em What They Want
  • Give Them What They Want

J Dilla - Give Em What They Want

Stones Throw Records2014