Throwback: Black History Month/Happy 47th Birthday J. Dilla!

Today is the seventh day of Black History Month. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few days of this month, you’d see that I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards understanding the Black experience. 

Through the month — and throughout the year, I hope that you’ll come to understand and appreciate the following: 

  • Black culture is American culture
  • Black music is American music. 
  • Black history is American history.  
  • America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop. 
  • Black art matters. 
  • You can’t love black art and black artists without loving black people. 
  • Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time. 

Coincidentally, today would have been the legendary and beloved hip-hop producer J Dilla’s 47th birthday. Although we lost him 15 years ago due to complications from Lupus, Dilla’s work is still powerfully vital, influential and forward-thinking. It shouldn’t be surprising that his work has drawn comparisons to that of John Coltrane.

As a t-shirt popularly says “J. Dilla has changed my life” and if you’re a hip-hop head, that saying is profoundly true. We miss you James Yancey. Happy birthday, wherever you are.