One of music’s most beloved creators continues to influence hip-hop lovers years after his passing. This past Wednesday (Feb 7) marked J-Dilla’s 44th birthday and another reason to celebrate his rich discography.
During his rich career, the Detroit native rose to fame as a soulfully unorthodox producer who laced instrumentals for everyone from Pharcyde to Janet Jackson. This led to him becoming a part of the production team The Ummah — consisting of A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and Ali and Raphael Saadiq –– before embarking on his own performance career with Slum Village and the 2001 release of his solo album Welcome to Detroit.
However, many oft forget that Dilla’s illness forced him to live a cautionary and sometimes painful life. Making his 32 years on this earth an embodiment of everything hip-hop stands for. 12 years since his passing, James Dewitt Yancey continues to show his fans the difference between “existing” and “living.” Through his music, Dilla is still able to live past his existence through the impact of his masterpieces.