There's No One Illa . . .
Touch The Skyye

One Of Us

"[J Dilla's] work ethic, persistence and genius work says it all. I felt like he, along with Pete Rock and DJ Premier, was looking over my shoulder every record I listened to, and every beat I made. Funny thing is, although we were and will always be connected somehow, I never even had the pleasure to meet or talk to him."
-- quote from Little Brother member/producer 9th Wonder

Funeral services for James Yancey, better known as J Dilla (aka Jay Dee), were held on Tuesday (Feb. 14) in Los Angeles. Among the music diginitaries in attendence included Q-Tip, Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, Erykah Badu, D' Angelo, Common, Pete Rock, James Poysner, Busta Rhymes and many others.

"It was a closed casket. Something I approve of simply because the pain that his lupus condition left him in rendered him somewhat unrecognizable," wrote ?uestlove on his MySpace page about the services. "Before the pallbearers ([Slum Village producer] Kareem Riggins and Q-Tip, amongst them) took him out to the burial ground, I waited til the place emptied out somewhat til it was just me, Com, James Poysner, and Omar Edwards. I wanted to leave something with him. So I gave him my most personal possession.

"Dilla is the only person to whom I willingly let have my GOOD afropick (most of y'all are like, 'oh I got one too!' -- but the keyword is "good." I got about 50 of em. But only 8 "good" ones. Now I have 7 left.) This was the part in which all of us started balling.

"But then just like that in a 'snap' -- we was back to normal: 'We can't cry like this y'all . . . we all we got!' James pondered then quipped: 'Man . . . you mean I'm stuck with you?!'

"We laughed so hard."

After the funeral services, J. Dilla's mother, Ms. Maureen Yancey ("Momma Dilla"), sent her heartfelt thank yous and appreciation to the fans and artists who have supported J. Dilla's career.

If you would like to send monetary/chartiable donations to the Yancey Family, that information is located HERE. And please go cop J. Dilla's banging disc Donuts, which is in stores now.

In further developments, reports have surfaced that a memorial concert in honor of the late producer is being organized by fellow rhyme-spitters Common and Q-Tip.


Some of you may be wondering why all of the fuss and teary-eyed sob notes for a guy who simply made some great music.

Well, hip-hop entrepenuer Wes Jackson (HNIC of Sevenheads Entertainment) from the Swift Chancellor Report wrote a touching eulogy that really sums up what J Dilla meant to the hip-hop GLOBAL community.

Wes reflects:

Outside of Rob One Poetic from the Gravediggaz this is the 1st non Hip-Hop mega star that I can recall who has passed. And Jay Dee Was One Of Us. Backpacker, underground, purist, neo-Native Tongue, whatever label floats your boat.

He came up in the same era I did. His group rose through the same ranks the brothers I worked with did. And he didn't die from a drive by or an overdose. Nothing cinematic about lupus. His ailments like his music were things that every brother and sister could relate too. That makes it all the more tragic. That was what made it hurt so much on Friday.

But I tell you, that brother had a gift that I wish I had.
I hope that his passing will draw some attention to his work and hopefully stimulate a mind or two.

And I am not trying to lionize Jay because as I listened to some of those songs over the weekend I became reminded about his uh . . . less than PC subject matter. He wasn't perfect. Flawed like all of us. Materialistic, aggressive, insecure, all of that. But humble, dedicated, passionate, and driven as well.

This is so true -- J Dilla was indeed . . . "one of us."

He was you, me, your cousin, your brother, your favorite family member.

Some of today's rappers that are getting all of the radio airplay I can't relate to because they talk so much dumb shit on records. Most rappers today are like a distant relative, you hear crazy stories about them, but you have never met them in person -- so you can't relate.

But J. Dilla was different -- he was tangible to me. I felt like I have known him my whole life through his music. I felt a connection with him much like with my other extended musical family members that included the late Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone and John Coltrane. I knew that Jay Dee love big beat hip-hop -- I can hear the enthusiasm in his voice whenever he yells "turn it up" on many of his "ANTHEMIC" songs (listen to Platinum Pied Pipers' head-nodder "Shotgun (intro)" from Triple P). And while listening to Champion Sound, I can feel both Jay and Malib's hip-hop spirit through the music as their sound pulsates in my ears.

So this bears repeating again . . .

R.I.P. J Dilla!