On Feb. 7, James “J Dilla” Yancey, would have been celebrating his 40th birthday. However, On Feb. 10, 2010, Dilla tragically passed away due to complications related to lupus, leaving behind a short-lived but palpable legacy as one of hip hop’s most innovative and talented producers. His skills shone through as a beatmaker, rapper, singer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist, and will forever remain an inspiration to many artists.
Instead of listing our favorite J Dilla songs, which could have easily been multiple pages long, we’ve decided to explore the tributes of those who he influenced, and the legacy he leaves behind. Here are a few of our favorite tributes to J Dilla.
1. DJ Deckstarr’s “J Dilla Changed My Life” Shirt
The public learned about the severity of Dilla’s medical condition during his 2005 European tour, when he first started appearing on stage in a wheelchair. DJ Deckstarr (pictured) created the shirt and wore it while opening for Dilla in Germany, on what would turn out to be his final show. The shirt has since sold out on the Stones Throw website. Read the whole story here.
2. An Orchestral Rendition of Dilla’s Work
Carlos Niño and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson arranged a series of heartwarming chamber orchestra renditions of Dilla songs for the album Suite For Ma Dukes.
3. Dilla’s Uncle to Open Up a Donut Shop in his Honor
Announced this past summer, Dilla’s uncle, Herman Hayes, is opening up a doughnut shop in the Harmonie Park section of Detroit this spring called “Dilla’s Delights.”
4. FlyLo Remakes Slum Village’s Fall In Love
5. House Shoes Deconstructs Every Dilla Sample
6. Dillamental: The Instrumental Tribute to J Dilla
An ensemble of Charleston, SC jazz musicians formed Dillamental, an all-instrumental tribute to J Dilla. They try to keep their renditions as close as possible to the original beats.