J Dilla (19742006)

James Yancey (aka J Dilla) passed away Friday February 10th, at the age of 32, from complications stemming from lupus. Excelling as both creative collaborator and producer for a slew of artists ranging from Janet Jackson to Macy Gray, De La Soul to Busta Rhymes, Poe to Mos Def; Yancey was both prolific and versatile — lending his skill for churning out serious beats to musicians from the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and the Roots, as well as sitting behind the board for major release after major release, without ever abandoning the independent base of the hip-hop/R&B genre from which he arose.
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Just before his unfortunate passing, J Dilla released an instrumental album entitled Donuts and had finished up the Welcome to Detroit, Vol. 2 compilation which, according to Watts Records, will be released shortly.

Likewise, two other projects, The Shining and Jay Love Japan, had been completed, as well as production work for Madlib, Busta Rhymes, Ghostface Killah, A.G., Visionaries, Truth Hurts, Phat Kat, MF DOOM, Skillz, and Frank N Dank.

Born and bred in Detroit, J Dilla started off producing musicians and collectives that he admired during the mid-’90s before adopting the pseudonym Jay Dee and joining Slum Village, leaving after one album to pursue a solo career and refocus on the production end of the industry.

Dilla was diagnosed with Lupus nearly three years back and, despite his rapid physical degeneration, gained some of his greatest accomplishments in those years leading up to his death — working extensively with Common, as well as teaming up with fellow producer/rapper Madlib to collaborate on 2003’s critically acclaimed Champion Sound; an exchange that had the two respective artists switching duties off and on from producer to MC.

His loss has greatly affected the recording community and he will be mourned for some time to come. We at EQ offer our condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.