J Dilla [Yancey, James DeWitt; Jay Dee]
- Will Boone
[Yancey, James DeWitt; Jay Dee]
(b Detroit, MI, Feb 7, 1974; d Los Angeles, CA, Feb 10, 2006). American hip-hop producer and MC. He grew up the oldest of four children in a musical household in Detroit, Michigan. In his late teens he honed his music production abilities in the Detroit studio of Parliament Funkadelic veteran Amp Fiddler. J Dilla’s embrace of tonal and rhythmic complexity, openness to diverse source material, and imaginative use of sampling was showcased in the mid-1990s on Fantastic vol. 1, the unofficially released first album of his own trio Slum Village. This work garnered the attention of many prominent hip-hop artists including Q-Tip, formerly of A Tribe Called Quest, who was instrumental in expanding Dilla’s exposure. By the early 2000s Dilla had produced tracks for Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, Erykah Badu, Common, and other hip-hop notables.
J Dilla’s ability to explore the avant-garde while maintaining an accessible core hip-hop identity—best demonstrated on his solo projects (...