James Dewett Yancy, better known as Jay Dee or J Dilla, has often been referred to as the Mozart of Hip-Hop. He was a world renowned Grammy Award winning producer that got to work with some of Hip-Hop’s most influential artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, Madlib, De La Soul, and Busta Rhymes. J Dilla was an artist gone too soon, passing away from cardiac arrest at the age of 32 back in 2006.
Having both parents as musicians paved Jay's musical foundation. He went from a high school boy in a Hip-Hop group called Slum Village and making beats on a tape deck, to a pioneer producing throughout the ‘90s and revolutionized the ‘00s.
On Friday, June 12 at Fitzgerald’s Bar, San Antonio community members Richard Cooper of Richard Anthony Clothing Co. and DJ Gibb host “Texas Loves Jay”, a benefit show in honor of the late J Dilla that will include a special headlining performance by his younger brother, Illa J, who recently released a single titled “Strippers”.
“To be honest, it started out as something completely different altogether. I was up late one night last November cramming for my Consumer Behavior class exam the following day, when I heard a Dilla track come on in the back ground during an Adult Swim commercial,” Richard Cooper told Sobre Sound.
“At that moment, I was inspired to create a design for my third Dilla shirt to release for the upcoming Dilla Month of February. Since launching Richard Anthony Clothing Co., I've sold a Dilla inspired design each year with a portion of proceeds from the shirt sells going directly to the Dilla Foundation. After coming up with the design, I reached out to the J Dilla Foundation to obtain licensing and the permission to use Jay Dee's likeness. I was contacted back from a member of the Dilla foundation and nicely told my request would be denied this year as they currently weren't granting any new licenses since they were releasing their own official merch line to try and crack down on J Dilla bootleggers. I completely understood and thanked them for their time and for getting back in touch with me. Over the next few days however I still wanted to do something to raise donation funds for the J Dilla Foundation. With that in mind, I came up with the idea of instead throwing a Dilla Day event here in town and inviting the Dilla Foundation members down to our city to be a part of.”
Maureen Yancy, mother of J Dilla and Illa J, started the J Dilla Foundation that helps fund inner-city music programs and provide scholarships to students attending schools that have progressive music curricula.
Cooper and Gibb are also hosting members of the J Dilla Foundation to come down to see the show which includes local artists such as: DJ Gibb, Third Root that is made up of Easy Lee, Mexican StepGrandfather and DJ Chicken George; Jazzy-Blues Hip-Hop band Black Note, intellect rapper/ producer Aura Self, and producer Jacob Benavides aka Hedknoic and special guest Ma Dukes.
Through all his accomplishments, creativity and influence, J Dilla struggled with lupus, an inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissues, a disease that affects over five million people around the world.
The show will distribute the proceeds to the Lone Star Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America (as well as have some information on the disease itself) and the J Dilla Foundation.
Cooper shared that he had met up with DJ Gibb one night to have a beer when he brought up the idea for the Dilla Day type event.
“He was immediately on board with me and suggested that we even reach out to the Lupus Foundation to get them involved as well since both Dilla and Ms. Yancey have suffered from this debilitating disease," said Cooper.
"From there I reached out to the Lupus Foundation of America and was put in contact with the Lone Star Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America, they were immediately on board as well. I reached out again to the J Dilla Foundation with the new proposal for an event here in San Antonio. Not only were they on board but they agreed to speak with Illa J, Dilla's younger brother and recording artist, about coming down to perform for the event also. With the framework for the event in place, Gibb took over booking the rest of the local acts and securing the venue. Thankfully we were fortunate to find an opening at Fitzgerald's for the date we needed. So here we are today counting down to the show in June!” Cooper said.
Apart from organizing the event that pays homage to one of the greatest musical innovators of the last decade, Cooper also told Sobre Sound that he had reached out to the mayor and the City of San Antonio to get a mayoral proclamation of Dilla Day for June 12.
With so much passion, energy and time going into the event, Sobre Sound asked Cooper what fueled the fire, to which he responded:
“As far as Dilla revolutionizing hip hop and producing....I'm still waiting to find the De Lorean that Dilla used to travel back from the future in. He was just so ahead of his time with everything he did regarding his sampling techniques and sound. Every so often their comes along those artists who redefine the process, set the new standards, and transcend genre...to me, Dilla is one of those artists as evidenced by who he all worked, and who his work even now almost a decade after his passing continues to inspire."
Cooper went on, "To this day, one of my favorite things to do is dig up the original samples that Jay Dee used in his works. I'm in awe each and every time at what he was able to create out of two to three second snippets from the most obscure and eclectic works. He has been a major influence on my life and one of my inspirations for launching my own brand. I have a Dilla playlist that I listen to whenever I begin to work on any new design ideas I may have.”
Tickets for the event are $30 to help with the accommodations of the headliner Illa J as well as the J Dilla Foundation and can be found on Richard Anthony Clothing Website as well as Eventbrite . There is also an option to donate to both foundations.
“I'm really proud that throughout all of the obstacles and challenges that were thrown our way we persevered through and are still making this show happen. There is a desperate need especially in our community here in San Antonio to spread the awareness of this disease and give information. Women of color both Hispanic and African American are statistically shown to be among those highest effected by the disease."
“I have watched a good friend of mine battle through this disease as well. While yes, we are honoring the life, legacy, and memory of arguably one of the greatest music producers of all time this event is about so much more. It is at its core about spreading the awareness of this Lupus disease which deserves far more attention than it is currently receiving. I'm excited at the possibility of how large our city can grow this in the future!” Cooper concluded.