"Since he was a couple of months old, he wouldn’t go to sleep unless he heard jazz, so my husband had to sing and play for him to go to sleep. It was his lullaby music as a child in his nursery."He started collecting vinyl at the age of two and would spin records in the park.
Growing up he would attend church regularly, where he sang in the youth choir. He was a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout as well. He attended Davis Aerospace Technical High School, much to his dismay:
“He didn’t want to be at Davis,” Maureen recalls, “But he was just excellent at physics, so I thought that maybe he would warm up to it, but he was interested in music. He ended up practically turning Davis into a dance hall, because every time I turned around he was going to DJ some party.”Eventually he went to a different high school, where he formed the group Slum Village with T3 and Baatin but in the long run, going to Davis would help him with his creative techniques when it came to making music.
By the mid-1990s he had already worked with Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, De La Soul and Pharcyde as well as many others. Most of these being original songs as well as some remixes. Once Slum Village started releasing albums, Jay Dee became better known for his producing as well as being an emcee. He was also apart of The Soulquarians, a group he helped found with ?uestlove, D'Angelo and James Poyser and others.
His first single as a solo artist was called 'F-ck the Police', which was released in 2001. That was followed by the release of his debut album Welcome 2 Detroit. This is when he began to go by J Dilla to differentiate himself from Jermaine Dupri who went by J. D. In 2002, he signed to MCA Records and recorded an album where he rapped and used some of his favorite producers on the tracks. His favorite producers included Madlib, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, Supa Dave West, Kanye West, Nottz,Waajeed, Quebo Kuntry (J.Benjamin) and others. Unfortunately, the album was never released. He and fellow producer Madlib formed Jaylib and released an album called Champion Sound in 2003.
2003 was the year that Dilla became ill and began to lose weight dramatically. The speculation about his illness began in 2004 and was confirmed in 2005 when he was seen on tour in Europe, doing shows in a wheelchair.
J Dilla died on February 10, 2006, after and the release of his final album Donuts, at home in Los Angeles, California. He was 32 years old.
Even after his death, J Dilla is still well celebrated and truly missed by his fans as well as his fellow hip hop artists and producers. He is celebrated every year around the time of his birthday. Below are a few celebrations that are going on this week around the globe:
Also, Detroit rapper Black Milk will hit SOB's in New York on February 10th to pay tribute to Dilla, with Danny Brown and DJ Houseshoes. If you can't make it to any of these events, look for some in your area or you can celebrate J Dilla by watching the new documentary Still Shining that was released today.
Here's a unreleased track from Consequence ft. Q-Tip which was produced by Dilla:
The Consequences by Consequence feat. Q-Tip by Consequence
J Dilla Foundation
Happy Birthday J Dilla!!!
- Mixtape Chic