Illa J Steps Away From J Dilla’s Shadow on New Album ‘John Yancey’

Dimas Sanfiorenzo Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes…
Stream Illa J's New Album John Yancey
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Illa J connects with Calvin Valentine again. 

Rapper and producer Illa J has released his new album, John Yancey. In some ways, the album is a sequel to the LP he put out last year, Home. 

On both projects, Illa J is working exclusively with Los Angeles based producer Calvin Valentine.

WATCH: Illa J Gives Off Summertime Vibes in the “Enjoy The Ride” Video

Home was very much a project about Detroit. John Yancey is about Illa’s time in LA. And this is reflected in the music, which is bright and groovy. (Especially the sunny single “Enjoy The Ride.”)

WATCH: The Video for Illa J’s Gorgeous New Single “Tokyo” [Premiere]

When describing John Yancey, Illa J says that the album is “more personal than all of my projects…I basically talk about the ups and downs of all my relationships over the past 10 years.”

One of the throughlines on the album is Illa J trying to step away from the gigantic shadow of his older brother J Dilla:

It makes sense that it ended up being called John Yancey because for so long in my career I felt like I was tryna be me and my brother, and I’m finally at peace, like I’m not J Dilla’s younger brother Illa J, I’m James younger brother John.

Stream Illa J’s John Yancey below.


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