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February 7th 2014 would have been the 40th birthday of producer/MC James Dewitt Yancey, aka J-Dilla. The Detroit producer’s influence runs too deep to list here, but he touched many lives, including that of A Tribe Called Quest member Phife Dawg.

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Besides being a member for The Ummah production team with Q-Tip, Dilla produced three tracks (“Bend Ova“Thought You Was Nice” and “4 Horsemen“) on Phife’s 2000’s solo LP “Ventilation.”


J-Dilla died on February 10, 2006 due to complications from thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura.

For Phife’s first single from his still “work-in-progress” album, “MUTTYmorPHosis” he pays tribute to Dilla and recalls the time they both spent in the same hospital. Phife has been fighting diabetes for years.

The instrumental, produced by DJ Rasta Root, draws inspiration from KC & The Sunshine Band’s “What Makes You Happy,” popularized by Dilla on the vintage Slum Village track “Hold Tight,” which features Q-Tip. Stream and download it below:


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