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Happy Birthday J Dilla

Today, February 7th, James Dewitt Yancey, known to the rap world as J Dilla would have been 37 years old.

His contribution to hip-hop can’t be measured simply by his discography and his collaborations, Dilla was an inspiration for the city of Detroit and an influence on rappers and producers across the globe.

Under the production name Jay Dee, he crafted classics for acts like Common, A Tribe Called Quest, and Busta Rhymes with a sound inspired by Pete Rock but carving a lane of his own with his distinct percussion and soulful samples.

Dilla also stepped behind the mic as one of the first Detroit artists to sign with a major back in 1995.

As part of the production group, The Ummah, with Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Raphael Saadiq, Dilla produced for The Pharcyde, De La Soul and Janet Jackson.

His biggest hit was Jackson’s Grammy-winning, “Got Til It’s Gone,” although the credit went to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

In 2001, Jay Dee, began using the name “J Dilla” to differentiate himself from Jermaine Dupri, and left the group he formed in back in high school, Slum Village to pursue a major label solo career with MCA Records.

Dilla suffered from a rare blood disease and what some reported to be Lupus causing him to lose weight and perform in a wheelchair during a European tour in 2005.

J Dilla died on February 10, 2006, three days after his 32nd birthday and the release of his final album Donuts.

His legacy and influence still live on today.

Happy Birthday J Dilla.