Happy Birthday James Yancey [Updated]

Happy Birthday James Yancey [Updated]

Today, February 7th, marks the 38th anniversary of the birth of a certain producer/emcee named James Dewitt Yancey a.k.a. J Dilla. For many hip hop heads, myself included, Dilla was our messiah.

He was massively prolific during his tragically short life, collaborating with some of the dopest hip hop acts around and playing a major role in many classic albums including The Pharcyde’s Labcabincalifornia, Jaylib’s (Madlib + Dilla) Champion Sound, Common’s Like Water for Chocolate and of course his final album while alive Donuts.

Dilla was nothing short of legendary, through studying the hip hop greats before him like Pete Rock and DJ Premier, he perfected the art of beatmaking and brought forth a creative fountain of musical bliss that will undoubtedly be revered for centuries to come. When humanity finally depletes Earth of its natural resources (or renders Earth uninhabitable due to a nuclear holocaust) and is forced to leave the planet in search of a new home, historians will teach young space born humans about the importance of Dilla’s legacy.

If those intergalactic explorers ever come into contact with extra terrestrial life forms, I have little doubt that if they perceive sound in a similar fashion to homo sapiens, Dilla beats will be making alien necks snap. Jay Dee will travel the universe!

Now I encourage all of you lovely readers of The Find Magazine to go into your (digital) music libraries, search for Jay Dee or J Dilla and press play, take out your records, tapes, CDs and play Dilla’s music. Reflect on the amazing sounds Mr. Yancey crafted for our ears, minds, and souls to enjoy.

His physical form may be gone but he lives on through the music of thousands of new and old artists that were influenced by his genius. Pay homage to the prophet of boom bap with your own J Dilla tribute. R.I.P!

And check out our selection of fantastic new J Dilla tributes, updated throughout the day:


Kamir Hiam (USA) has been obsessed with hip hop culture since discovering rap as a child in the mid 90s. As curator of The Find's Stay Thirsty podcast, he is an obsessive crate digger, always looking for more dope music. Other hobbies include travel, reading, fitness, and science.