The Hip Hop community came together on Wednesday (February 7) to share special tributes to the late Detroit legend, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 32 due to cardiac arrest.
“HAPPY 50 TO THE GREATEST TO EVER DO IT @officialjdilla,” Busta wrote on Instagram. “MY FAVORITE PRODUCER EVER AND ONE OF MY FAVORITE MC’S EVER!! I WILL FOREVER REPRESENT YOU THROUGH MY WORK KING!!”
Common — who was not only one of Dilla’s most frequent collaborators but also lived with him in Los Angeles — called him “the greatest” and said he’s made a lasting impact on his life and career.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that my life isn’t moved and touched by what you brought to it,” he wrote in his own Instagram post. “Thank You my great brother for blessing me and the planet with your gifts and your artistry and your genius.
“You are The Greatest! We celebrate your born day on the planet. Happy Birthday Jay Dilla. Love You! Love.”
Elsewhere, fellow producer DJ Premier wrote: “HAPPY BORN DAY DILLA DAWG,” while Pete Rock added: “HAPPY BORN DAY TO THE G.O.A.T. His physical is missed, but his greatness is still here with us.”
DJ Jazzy Jeff called J Dilla the “greatest of all time” and a “genius” in a touching message.
“It’s that time of year again when we celebrate The G.O.A.T. @officialjdilla,” he wrote. “Happy 50th birthday to the genius of all geniuses. You were clearly tapped into another frequency that us normal beings didn’t have access to.”
A-Trak went one step further and dived into some of his favorite Dilla records in his vinyl collection.
“Digging in the crates… celebrating J Dilla’s 50th bday with some of my personal favorites, especially his scratches!! I’m still not done,” the DJ/Fool’s Gold founder wrote.
Surviving Slum Village member T3 wrote: “Happy 50th birthday !!!! to James Dewitt Yancey Aka #Jaydee aka #jdilla. Rest up brother.”
J Dilla’s brother, Illa J, also shared a video message paying tribute to his lasting legacy and the opportunities he’s provided for him.
“Happy birthday to my big brother James Dewitt Yancey a.k.a. J Dilla a.k.a. Jay Dee, one of the greatest Hip Hop producers of all time, and your legacy will live on.” he began.
“You’ve inspired so many musicians from jazz to classical and so many children that would have never stepped into music if it wasn’t for your legacy. All the way down to your little brother where I’m so inspired to be the best musician I can be, and it’s because of you.”
He continued: “You’ve made me appreciate music and also helped me to live a life where I’m able to do what I love and travel around the world. It’s all because of your legacy, so I thank you so much, bro.
I love you and I will always miss you, and your legacy will live on forever. Rest in peace, J Dilla. One of the greatest music producers of all time. Love you, bro. Peace.”
Fellow Soulquarian and Dilla historian Questlove wrote: “Always Celebrating Dilla. Happy 50th & thank you for everything. Cheers,” with Posdnuos of De La Soul adding in the comments: “He placed the ‘Pro’ in producer.”
Fellow Motor City native Royce Da 5’9″, meanwhile, has teamed up with the Detroit Pistons for a new merch line inspired by J Dilla, which will be available to purchase on March 13.
Royce serves as the art director for the capsule collection and called it a “great honor” to be a part of the project.