James Dewitt Yancey, aka J Dilla, passed away in his bed at the age of 32. His untimely death was the result of a combination of rare blood disease TTP and lupus, which had debilitated the final years of his life. But like his contemporaries Notorious BIG and Tupac, Dilla's posthumous reputation grew to heights far greater than anything he had achieved while alive. Cutting his teeth as a producer for A Tribe Called Quest, Dilla went on to become a member of the group Slum Village and involved himself in various projects that included an abortive major label career as both producer and MC. It was his compositional work that became his legacy. His affinity for crafting lengthy, melodic loops peppered with breakbeats and vocal samples took instrumental hip-hop into new, more musically complex realms. His style is best exemplified on final solo album Donuts, the release party for which was held three days before his death.
J Dilla dies
10 February 2006: Number 47 in our series of the 50 key events in the history of R&B and hip-hop music
Paul MacInnes is a reporter for the Guardian