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By Ralph Jones
Special to the Michigan Citizen

If you listened to hip hop or R&B any time from the mid 90s through the first decade of the new millennium, chances are you’re familiar with James Dewitt Yancey, known as J Dilla or Jay Dee. J Dilla came from a musical family — his mother was an opera singer and his dad a jazz bassist. He was one of the founding members of Slum Village. The music he produced influenced a generation of artists including A Tribe Called Quest, Janet Jackson, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, Common, The Pharcyde, Erykah Badu and many more. His groundbreaking music changed the sound of both urban America and the world.

In 2006, J Dilla passed away at the age of 32 from a rare blood disease, but his music lives on.

On Feb. 7 – 10 — the dates that mark J Dilla’s birth and death — this year, Detroit celebrated the life and music of one of her native sons, James Dewitt Yancey.

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