This one time, I was at a party, right? And there were big, gorgeous hardwood floors in this gigantic house just begging to be danced on, so of course, everyone was outside smoking cigarettes. I decided this would not do, so I threw on a copy of J Dilla's Donuts, and what do you know? Mood lighting appeared, a disco ball descended and began rotating sensuously, and... okay, this is a load of shit, honestly. I really did put on a J Dilla album at a party, and maybe I had a bit of whiskey confidence going on, but I swear on my copy of After the Gold Rush that the entire room relaxed.
Dilla's life was cut short in 2006 at age 32 when he died from lupus-related complications, leaving behind scores of unreleased mixes and material, some of which surfaced in 2008 when his unreleased album for MCA, Pay Jay, was leaked. Luckily, the rest of this treasure trove is in the best hands possible: those of his mother, Maureen Yancey (a.k.a. Ma Dukes). Acting as executive producer, Yancey called on producer/DJ/rapper Pete Rock, Dilla's only real-deal idol, to pull together another collection of unreleased material from the vaults.
Jay Stay Paid runs like a radio show with Rock at the helm, guiding the listener through the brand-new tracks. "It wasn't rushed and it wasn't haphazard," Yancey explains. "This album combines what he did in the beginning of his career, what he did in some of our early hospital stays, which was very deep, and some stuff pulled from old floppy disks & DATs. It's mind blowing... this is like the missing links to Dilla's legacy."
Jay Stay Paid is due June 2 on Nature Sounds, with guest spittin' from Black Thought of The Roots, DOOM, Havoc of Mobb Deep, Pharoahe Monch, Blu, Pacific Division, and M.O.P. Let's hope this is not the last we hear from The Dee.
[Photo: Mpozi Tolbert]