photos courtesy of The Ology
In a word: NOOOO!!! As reported in the Detroit News and other outlets, it appears that the personal record collection (or at least a significant chunk of it) of James “J Dilla” Yancey is being sold off piecemeal by UHF, a record store in Royal Oak, MI (a suburb just north of the city’s upper border, formed by the now-infamous 8 Mile road). At least that is the claim of UHF proprietor Jeff Brubeck, who recovered the 7,000-8,000 pieces of vinyl from an abandoned storage unit in Clinton Township, along with:
…a box of cassette tapes, labeled in black marker as “Jaydee Beats.” There were also lyric booklets, along with magazines and pieces of junk mail addressed to James Yancey, as well as to his parents, Beverly and Maureen Yancey.
Brubeck put the first batch of Dilla proto-donuts on sale for Record Store Day with yellow tags to denote their special status, and will continue to put them on sale, several at a time, as he combs through the boxes of records. Although many of the discs are “dollar-bin throwaways” that only had real value after being put through Dilla’s magical donut-making machine there are also “some, including titles from 1970s Detroit jazz label Tribe Records, that have significant value…”
Brubeck is apparently in touch with Stones Throw records (who put out Donuts and other J Dilla releases) and plans to share some proceeds from the record sales with the J Dilla Foundation. He claims, however, that his attempts to contact the foundation, as well as Dilla’s mom Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, have been unsuccessful so far. Considering the artistic and cultural significance of the intact collection, not to mention unreleased beat tapes and correspondence, we can only hope that Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History–or some other institution with deep pockets and enough vision to recognize the vinyl’s historic value–will step in to keep the records together.
UPDATE: The word from ?uestlove (via twitter):
word is dilla had some records stored long ago & owner of storage sold them after billing expired. don’t believe this is “entire” collection
In my mind, even if this is correct, the presence of beat-tapes, correspondence and the Tribe jazz records alone makes the cache or records culturally significant–and it ought to be kept intact and catalogged as such.
spotted at DN