February 7th -- James Dewitt Yancey
Biggie and Tupac are not martyrs in hip hop to me...
They're dead and people started referring to them as the "greatest ever" after they died, quite possibly as a result of how the irony that how they lived had such a hand in how they died.
Another blog for another time, Phillip.
James Dewitt Yancey popularly known as J. Dilla is one of those people in hip hop who died, be it from causes not (necessarily) of the black condition - a hailstorm of bullets - but from legitimate illnesses.
Today would have been his 37th birthday...
It would not be until THEN that people would come forward with the "Dilla was my favorite" talk, as people generally tend to do when someone is no long around to enjoy the love that they're name is now getting.
I will not be one of those holier-than-thou fans who can LITERALLY sit back and say "I told you so" as it relates to his life before he was gone. Seriously, I HAD the earlier work and one Slum Village album before his death, as well as the collaborative effort with Madlib, Champion Sound, and of course I bought Donuts after his death - but it is noteworthy that IT released only 3 days before his death and I was planning to go out of town that weekend.
On that trip, on an oddly rainy/snowy Atlanta weekend trip, is where I would get the news of his death.
Knowing the influence that Dilla had on other producers who I currently like, I was more than aware at the time who I was dealing with, and given that his name was JUST coming into some popular favor, it was fucked the fuck up that he had to die right then as well.
As it were, we lost - RIGHT THEN - one of the best producers we will have ever known. Even I was not fully aware of the ENTIRE breadth of it until after it was already too late.
As it were, it is impossible to keep people alive so we must do what we do to keep their names alive. That said, we will keep Dilla up through the word of mouth and use of the interconnected networks to spread the word.
But for now, we need just bid him feliz cumpleanos.