Happy Birthday J Dilla. Today is February 7th, and for those that have that date permanently etched in their brains like myself, that means it's J Dilla's birthday. The legendary Detroit producer and emcee would have been 37 years young today. It's hard to believe it's already been five years since he passed away at the tender age of 32 from complications related to Lupus. His contributions to contemporary music were so numerous that many consider him to be the greatest hip-hop producer of all time.
There will be many things written about him today regarding how monumental his time on earth was and how influential the music that he made with Slum Village truly was for an entire generation. Or how the songs that he crafted for various other artists such as The Roots, Erykah Badu, Common, Bilal, Busta Rhymes, The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, and numerous others represented the true golden era of late '90s' and early 2000's contemporary soul. It's all true. Then there are the numerous stories from those who knew him intimately that go untold to the masses about how giving Dilla was as a person that accurately measure his truest mark. He was a good son, a good father, and a good friend to a chosen few which is something that should never be overlooked.
For good reading material today, I recommend the stellar piece Dollars to Donuts that former Detroit Free Press writer Kelley Carter did for Vibe Magazine, an early Jay Dee interview from 1996 that Chairman Mao wrote for Vibe, and a true labor of love that I helped pen along with Khary Kimani Turner back in 2006. Of far greater importance is the music itself. Here are a few classic Dilla gems from over the years to check out along with a mini documentary, Still Shining, that B. Kyle put together back in 2006. Enjoy.