JAY DEE R.I.P. 12 Feb. 06

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James (Jay Dee/J Dilla) Yancey

The Greatest Beatmaker of All Time

Me and my cousin (Hynes Rizzo), in the late ’80’s early ’90’s,used to turn Detroit upside down in search of the flavor. Our newfagled independence (18 pushing 21) was fresh and exciting, we seemingly did it all ,and seriously stayed 100% trouble free.

Somehow, we ran across these roving parties, called “The Rhythm Kitchen”, here (usually after hours in a New Center area Chinese restaurant) we discovered in a social aspect…a club setting…the fundamental elements of Hip-Hop. These parties were the cream of the crop of Detroit’s rapidly expanding HIP-HOP underground (Shout out to Maurice Malone and Jessica Care Moore). Here we first experienced the infinite skills of an individual by the name of Jay Dee. At this time Jay was a local d.j., his crates, his style, his mixing, his skill, his ear…even then(’91/’92) were phenomenal. I’ll never forget staring at cats breaking to the instrumental of what I didn’t even know at the time was A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario-remix”. I just knew it was the illest schitt I’d seen or heard at that point…in a Chinese restaurant.

Come to find out it was thee guy who would put Detroit Hip Hop on the map in ways Eminem couldn’t.

Jay Dee was the architect of a sound of his own. His rhythms stutter-stepped, were bass heavy with nimble bass lines, were odd yet easy to freestyle too, dance to, nod yr head to or simply zone out to. Jay’s skills…on the mic and as a beatmaker were infectious and sheer genius (see “Fuck the Police”), considering that his main instrument were vinyl/an MPC/& tons of imagination. The man made the funkiest/simplest collages out of the strangest vinyl selection…a background vocal here, a horn line there. He was the audio equivalent of Romare Bearden.
His sound can be heard on records with various artists (Slum Village, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul,Madlib, O.D.B., Spacek,Janet Jackson, Common, The Roots, and Erykah Badu and many more.

I’m proud of Jay’s accomplishments as an artist from Detroit, and as a visionary for Hip-Hop.

Do yourself a favor and get acquainted with Jay’s work. I can’t imagine you wouldn’t like it even a little bit.

Jay left the planet 10 February 2006, he was 32 years old (as of 7 February). Lupus has been named as the cause of death.

Thank you for all of the work you put in in your amazing career.

You will be remembered always and missed greatly.



Filed under When the Saints Go Marching

8 responses to “JAY DEE R.I.P. 12 Feb. 06

  1. semilla amarilla

    R. I. P.

  2. I’m listening to a compilation of songs that Dilla used/sampled elements from to create new songs…this being the science of HIP-HOP music itself, this guy is similar to a “George Washington Carver/peanut” in his sheer inventiveness.

    This mix I’m listening to has music from nearly every genre.
    I’d love to hear a radio station with this format.
    My point being, it’s all about your imagination. Jay Dee was hearing what he wanted to say inside the works of any and everyone. The fact that he managed to say it…have it heard outside of Detroit…have his work acknowledged for the genius that it is…break down manifesto on his deathbed…and check out of the game 3 days after delivering his manifesto, is so FULL of RHYTHM (MATHEMATICS/SCIENCE/LIFE), I’ll be studying this 3 1/2 hour mix for some time. The schitt is deep, and it’s all good, through and through.

    I’m glad I got a chance to meet this dude, he’s one of the greats.
    He heard it like Dolphy, Mingus, Coltrane, Stewart/Stone, Prince…those types of guys heard it. That’s what I dig.

    I gotta figure out how to do a podcast from here…that’s what I’d really like to do.

    I’m SO not bullschitting.

    This guy had some sick ass crates of music.

  3. semilla amarilla

    i hear that cut on urspace

  4. Yeah…Imagine playing that song and the original, along with like 200 others then the originals.

    Dude was a monster.

    He’s pitching things up and down and isolating such small parts and marrying them to different elements…it’s such a breath of fresh air.

    I really want to sit down with you and just play this stuff.
    I’m interested in your reaction.

    I’m putting together a package for you.

    the funnest homework ever, in the spirit of “FREE FRY CHICKEN”

  5. P.S. don’t forget to visit 3030media.net (located in the blog roll), you can catch Dave Chappelle on “inside the actor’s studio” as well as “Oprah”.

    some serious must see t.v. (‘cept I ain’t got no t.v.)

    Dave is the third highest scorer this Feb 06, behind Sly and Dilla.


  6. semilla amarilla

    dem free fry chicken days before the time mr. days rolled in con destino clandestino cielo azul…
    eastside steve y los sclavos
    youre seriously sparkin up some synapses long forgotten…
    musica dentro millenia
    that was the crew at el quito
    and again the river canyon of cd vitoria
    despues vera cruz
    destino clandestino
    cielo azul

  7. liminality

    somebody call my slave-name?….

    yea i got the dilla rest in peace jone playin too,
    and….chocolate city’s garth fagen was wrecked by the news.
    his tribute went out on the airwaves all sat. nite…

    i loved his style, knew it, but never knew it was him, until all this music is now attached to his production skills….amazing.. “behind the scenes” master. he defined an era of sound……

  8. Farewell J Dilla by Khary Kimani Turner
    from the Detroit Metro Times 15 Feb 2006

    Last Tuesday, DJ Houseshoes, DJ Dez, Slum Village’s T3 and hundreds of others gathered at Northern Lights Lounge in Detroit to celebrate the release of producer J-Dilla’s latest album, Donuts. It was Dilla’s birthday. The next day, Houseshoes traveled to New York for a release party at Joe’s Pub. Wajeed, of Platinum Pied Pipers, DJ’d, spinning Dilla music all night.

    “I went to Fat Beats [a New York record store] to buy my copy,” Houseshoes says. “Comin’ out of the store, Wajeed called and said, ‘He’s gone.’ I just sat down on the curb. I couldn’t believe it.”

    The news came just that suddenly for most of us. The Detroit hip-hop community is numb.

    Dilla, according to Houseshoes, a longtime friend, had been “in and out of hospitals for the last three years” contending with a kidney ailment. False rumors spread a year ago that he’d fallen into a coma. He hadn’t, but he had been seriously ill and recently performed in Europe in a wheelchair. Last week he was apparently doing much better, but was tired of hospital visits.

    Apparently, he died in sleep in a Los Angeles hospital. At press time it’s said that his kidneys, or even lupus, played a role. He was 32.

    Dilla’s résumé has been reported by dozens of media outlets throughout the past week, but his true impact goes far beyond mere production credits.

    If Detroit hip hop has a sound, James “Jay Dee/J-Dilla” Yancey defined it. Comparing him to hip-hop legends who achieved similar feats in their hometowns — Houston’s DJ Screw or Brooklyn’s Notorious B.I.G. — would be insufficient, though. Screw’s chopped-and-screwed sound has made Houston the flavor of the month. But it’s a regional flavor. Biggie is a Brooklyn benchmark, admired by the hip-hop world. But outside of Los Angeles’ Gorilla Black, he’s not imitated.

    Yancey, who switched his moniker from Jay Dee to J-Dilla a few years ago, caused some of hip hop’s best to literally change the way they make music. When Dilla was helping to develop Slum Village in the early ’90s, he gave A Tribe Called Quest leader Q-Tip a beat tape. Hence, Dilla soon became the foundation of A Tribe Called Quest’s production team, the Ummah. The results: The final two albums from A Tribe Called Quest, Beats, Rhymes & Life and The Love Movement, sounded very much like Slum Village projects. Q-Tip and Phife Dawg spent much of the album mimicking the rhyme styles of SV’s T3 and Baatin.

    Later, singer D’Angelo’s Voodoo album likewise hit on Dilla’s sound.

    Producers Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and 9th Wonder have all said they changed the way they program drums after hearing Dilla’s work. Pete Rock and Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson conducted regular meetings of the minds with Dilla. Janet Jackson and Dianne Reeves benefited from his remixes.

    Dilla always seemed to get deferred props. He is clearly lauded within hip-hop circles, and is, of course, huge overseas. But the American mainstream, conditioned by canned and formulaic radio rap, hardly batted a lash at genre-bending songs like Slum Village’s “I Don’t Know” or Pharcyde’s “Runnin’.”

    Though he didn’t give many interviews, Dilla granted Metro Times a Q&A in 1999 (“Sonic Rumbling,” June 2, 1999). He acknowledged a desire for greater notoriety, but was also content with his workload, which included jobs for Bilal, Heavy D, Rah Digga, Mos Def and Common.

    Dilla died as hip hop’s van Gogh, recognized as a “genius” whose gift was an ability to breathe through his music. In a way, his quiet transition is appropriate. Much of the music world slept on him, so maybe he returned serve. Getting slept on hurts, doesn’t it? What might hurt most is a point that Houseshoes makes: A huge chunk of hip hop’s soul is gone.

    Khary Kimani Turner is a freelance writer and musician. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

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