Jay Dee aka J Dilla, Donuts

Hua Hsu

By Hua Hsu

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Legendary hip-hop producer’s final solo album

The memorial T-shirts said it all: “J Dilla Changed My Life.” When Detroit producer James “Jay Dee” Yancey died this past February due to complications from lupus, he left behind an incredible, decade-long body of work, thousands of touched colleagues and fans and an otherworldly aesthetic that his disciples are still trying to wrap their heads around. Known for inventing the ticky-tack, negative-space approach to funk that came to define late-'90s neo-soul, the graceful, swooning loops and delicate chops of the sketchbook-like Donuts were a brief but tantalizing hint at Dilla's next giant step. We'll never know — and we're probably incapable of imagining — what would have come next.