This is the legacy of one James Dewitt Yancey also known as the one and only J Dilla. Born Feb. 7th 1974 and passing Feb. 10th 2006, J Dilla has been regarded as one the best Hip Hop producers of all time. His musical credits stretch form the aforementioned, Janet Jackson, to Erkyah Badu, to Common, to Busta Rhymes to A Tribe Called Quest. But still to some, J Dilla doesn’t quite get the credit he deserves. This paradox has created a cult figure out of J Dilla, Jay Dee & Mr. Yancey. Consider there is a community of folks who live, die and swear by this man music. “He made sounds that would be anything from the rawest of Hip Hop to something like sounds flowing against Radiohead, and he would play some of the instruments.” Said rapper and colleague Common, who work with Dilla on his 2000 Grammy nominated album ‘Like Water for Chocolate.’
J Dilla was born in Detroit and was considered by some a musical fanatic at an early age. Encourage by his parents J Dilla learned how to play the violin, cello, piano, trumpet and drums before he enrolled in high school. He was very passionate about the drums and that instrument became a staple in his music.
In 1988 while in high school Dilla hooked up with Baatin and T3 to form the group Slum Village. “Slum was the reason I’m even here. I shopped Slum to Tip that’s how I actually got on. He called me. He wasn’t interested in (signing) Slum though. Slum Village has always been slept on” Said J Dilla.
It was his association with Q Tip that led the two to join with fellow Tribe member Ali Shaheed Muhammad to form the production unit called Ummah. “It was good idea but it wasn’t thought out” Dilla once admitted. “At first it was cool, the first two three things we did, because I felt like I was part of A Tribe Called Quest, you know how you growing up because you really into to that, it was like a dream, I was going with the flow, just running with it.”