Influential producer James Dewitt Yancey, AKA J Dilla, was born today (February 7, 1974).
The Detroit producer, who began collecting records at the age of two, made a name for himself in Detroits Hip-Hop scene with groups with Phat Kat (1st Down) and the late Proof (5 Elementz).
J. Dilla eventually settled with classmates T3 and Baatin in Slum Village. His work with Dilla’ attracted the attention of A Tribe Called Quest, who recruited the talented producer to be a member of their Ummah (Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Dilla) production team.
He helped craft several songs on Tribe’s platinum fourth album Beats, Rhymes, and Life including “Get a Hold,” “1nce Again,” “Keep It Movin’,” “Word Play,” and “Stressed Out.” J.
Dilla also produced classic singles for other artists, such as De La Soul (“Stakes Is High”), The Pharcyde (“Drop,” “Runnin'”), Q-Tip (“Vivrant Thing,” “Breathe and Stop”), Janet Jackson (“Got ‘Til It’s Gone”), Common (“The Light”), and Erykah Badu (“Didn’t Cha Know,” “Cleva”).
In 2004, Dilla was officially diagnosed with lupus and TTP, a rare and incurable blood disorder. The disease greatly restricted Dilla’s ability to tour and also resulted in a marked weight loss.
Dilla immersed himself in his work, and successfully completed his celebrated final project in 2006, the sonic masterpiece Donuts. The album was released on his birthday, February 7, just three days before Dilla’s death at the age of 32 from cardiac arrest.
Twitter was flooded with messages about J. Dilla today. . Happy bday to the greatest hiphop producer ever your spirit is 4eva my dude, Q-Tip stated. We wont let ANY HATE take us away from spreading the legacy of J. Dilla.
J. Dilla leaves behind two daughters, and younger brother Illa J.
Happy Birthday Dilla Dawg, Illa J Tweeted. We miss you bro. And the Legacy continues to live on. The celebration of J. Dillas life is also an international affair.
Tonight, promoters The Doctor’s Orders will host DJs Spin Doctor, Rusty Ryan and Harry Love in the UK at Scala, for the J-Dilla Changed My Life party.
All proceeds from the event will benefit The J. Dilla Foundation.