J Dilla’s Record Collection Revealed On Crate Diggers

Karas Lamb Karas Lamb writes and digs for tunes you haven’t heard…

Rare photo of James Yancey AKA J Dilla AKA Jay Dee posing in front of his record collection

With this tribute to the late great J Dilla Crate Diggers has outdone itself. The latest episode of the FUSE TV series takes an archaeological look at the life of the über-prolific producer and the artifacts he left behind following his untimely passing in 2006 at the age of 32 ; this is the story of Dilla as told by the samples he chose and the people closest to him. The segment includes commentary from Dilla’s mother Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, Illa J, House Shoes, Amp Fiddler, J Rocc, DJ Spinna and more. Fellow producers unlock the storage unit containing a portion of Dilla’s impeccably kept collection to take a look at some of the things he sampled. They discuss the producer from his earliest musical inclinations to his organizational habits and ceaseless dedication to the music, even in the face of death – a point made unbearably tangible as J-Rocc touches a mask the producer had to wear during his lengthy stay in the hospital and finds himself in tears. Alluding – maybe for the first time ever – to the severity of his illness and the subsequent suffering Dilla quietly endured. There was not a dry eye in the joint. While we all have a tendency to get caught in the iconography of our greatest achievers, death is the unfortunate point at which the public is usually forced to abandon the trappings of fame to acknowledge an individual’s humanity. Seeing the pain of his loss – still fresh almost a decade since his passing – written on the faces of his closest friends makes Dilla’s importance as a world-renowned producer seem a bit less pressing for a moment as you realize the kind of impact he had as a man. His music remains on repeat around the world as a timeless testament to his anomalous sonic dynamism and soulful touch. Though his beat tapes will continue to be duplicated, he is irreplaceable. This is a celebration of a man who lived and died for the crates.

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