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J Dilla

About this Artist

James Dewitt Yancey, better known by the stage names J Dilla and Jay Dee, was an American record producer, drummer, rapper, and songwriter. He emerged during the mid-1990s underground hip hop scene in Detroit, as a member of the group Slum Village. He was also a member of the Soulquarians a musical collective active during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Yancey died at the age of 32 from a combination of TTP and lupus. Although his life was short, he is considered one of the most influential producers in hip hop and popular music. J Dilla's music raised the artistic level of hip-hop production in Detroit.

"His affinity for crafting lengthy, melodic loops peppered with breakbeats and vocal samples took instrumental hip-hop into new, more musically complex realms." In particular, his approach to drum programming, with its loose, or "drunk" style that experimented with non-standard quantization, has been influential on producers and drummers.

Yancey's death has had a significant impact on the hip-hop community. Besides countless tribute tracks and concerts, his death created a wealth of interest in his remaining catalog and, consequently, his influence on hip-hop production became more apparent.

The book, Dilla Time about Yancey's life, work, and influence was released on February 2022, preceded by Hulu and The New York Times Presenting: ‘The Legacy of J Dilla’  in 2023. Questlove is presently executively producing the Dilla Time Documentary, about the life and influence of the late music producer as “Explaining musical genius is my mission” which is currently in production.