Had he not passed away on Feb. 10, 2006, beloved hip-hop producer J Dilla would have turned 38 years young today.
Not the household name of say a Dr. Dre, Timbaland or Jermaine Dupri, the man born James Dewitt Yancey was -- and remains -- an underground hip-hop icon thanks to his work with De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Common and MF Doom. Dilla was part of the Detroit-based groups 1st Down and Slum Village.
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Dilla's instrumental records Ruff Draft and Donuts (released the week of his death) are, simply put, fucking awesome. Any emcee looking to learn how to rhyme should buy these albums asap and start flowing because the instrumentals are basically a how-to guide on flowing.
In honor of J Dilla's birthday, his passing (Dilla suffered from thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, although is official cause of death is cardiac arrest) and his awesomeness, we are going to post one must-hear track every day between now and Friday. This list wouldn't mean shit if it didn't start with "Workinonit," the first track from Donuts. It's got an Ad-Rock sample, this crazy heavy guitar in the intro and a beat sure to get your grandma to throw her hands in the air and wave them like she just don't care.
Happy birthday J Dilla and rest in peace!