By Jay Ray / @jayrayisthename
The posthumous legend of James D. Yancey (aka Jay Dee aka J Dilla) is peculiar. Not because it isn’t deserved - quite the opposite, actually.
One of my favorite BET moments happened in 2004. Pharrell was on 106 & Park and said that his favorite producer was Jay Dee. Now, that had to be clarified, because legendary producer Jermaine Dupree also uses the moniker JD. Pharrell provided that clarification - “Jay Dee, from Detroit.” The crowd was, unsurprisingly, clueless.
In life, Dilla was arguably responsible for redefining the sound of hip-hop in the late-90s into the 2000s. He had a knack for it. The bass drum was in the right place. The snares had the right snap. The bass rode the beat masterfully. The samples were perfectly obscure, but recognizable. Dilla means a lot of things to a lot of people. Doing anything in honor of him should be quality - out of respect. Unfortunately several posthumous releases in tribute have either been “ok,” “forgettable,” derivative or down right bad.
Byron The Aquarius hails from Birmingham, AL. An important fact, because musically, he’s proven to be one of the most interesting producers on the scene. His catalog boasts hip-hop, house music and future soul/beat scene sounds. None of these things are traditionally identified with Birmingham.