Legendary producer J Dilla passed away in 2006 at the age of 32 but left behind a storied legacy. From his work with Slum Village and A Tribe Called Quest to Erykah Badu and The Roots, he left his indelible fingerprint on numerous Hip Hop masterpieces.

Even as a solo artist, Jay Dee’s work set himself apart and further cemented his legendary status. Not long after one of Dilla’s beats appeared on Busta Rhymes’ highly anticipated album Extinction Event Level 2: The Wrath of God (on the song “Strap Yourself Down”), BBE Music has announced a special Welcome 2 Detroit box set to celebrate the project’s 20th anniversary.

According to a press release, it will include a deluxe 7” vinyl box set boasting instrumentals, two brand new interpretations by Brazilian group Azymuth and the DJ Muro, a stash of previously unreleased alternative mixes and studio outtakes pressed over 12 discs, plus a book revealing the album’s hidden story as “told by those who were there.”

Originally released by BBE on February 26, 2001, Welcome 2 Detroit served as Dilla’s inaugural solo album and the first project under the “J Dilla” moniker, a nickname given to him by Busta Rhymes. Featuring 16 tracks, the album introduced the Hip Hop audience to several Motor City artists, including a pre-Slum Village Elzhi and Phat Kat.

It also sparked the producer-led Beat Generation album series, which would later spawn classic albums by DJ Jazzy Jeff, Pete Rock, DJ Spinna, Marley Marl and even will.i.am.

As Dilla said at the time, “Peter [Adarkwah, founder of BBE] let me do whatever I wanted to do. So, I wanted to put people on there who are gonna spit y’know, lyrically and represent Detroit. Because I wouldn’t have been able to pull this album off if it came out under a major.
“Cos they’re not gonna let you just do a song or you can’t just do an instrumental. You gotta have this feature and you’re Jay Dee, why ain’t you got Erykah Badu? Why ain’t you got so and so on your album? I’d have had to go through all of that, instead of just putting out…y’know, Beej on this joint!”

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While speaking to Variety about ELE 2, Busta Rhymes talked about keeping Dilla’s legacy alive, a promise Bus-A-Bus made to Jay Dee’s mother Ma Dukes.

“I vowed to his family, his mother and his memory to keep his name as part of the culture,” he said. “I will always incorporate J Dilla in any recording I do. I am fortunate enough to have an incredible stash of his music and beats that he personally left with me.”

The Welcome 2 Detroit 20th anniversary edition is expected to arrive on February 5, 2021. Until then, revisit the original below.