A little more than 10 years after his death, the legendary and beloved James “J Dilla” Yancey’s 2002 album The Diary will finally see the light of day. The lost vocal project, scheduled to drop April 15, features unreleased songs and some fan favorites. To prep listeners for the 14-song LP, Yancey’s estate has unveiled a never-before-heard track called “The Introduction.”
“First off, let me introduce myself,” Jay Dee raps on the futuristic track. “My peeps call me Dilla, known to write and produce myself.”
Yes, the beatsmith who produced hits like Common’s “The Light,” also manned the boards on the project. But, he also had other producers create soundscapes. As a result, The Diary boasts a star-studded production lineup that includes Pete Rock, Madlib, Hi-Tek, Supa Dave West, Bink!, House Shoes, Nottz, and Karriem Riggins.
This is “the last record that [Dilla] actually wanted out,” Dilla estate’s creative director Eothen “Egon” Alapatt told Rolling Stone. “He said, in his own words, this record should come out during his lifetime. The last one.”
The collection was originally meant to be released in 2002 before Jay Dee was dropped by MCA. Snoop Dogg, Bilal, Kokane, Frank and Dank, Nottz, and Boogie all join Mr. Yancey as guests on the album, which took years to complete.
Alapatt, who was once Stones Throw’s general manager, “had to figure out exactly what records he nearly certainly wanted to include on this album” to piece it together. After a decade of legal battles, sample clearances, and files being recovered from the archives, Egon teamed up with Mass Appeal and a relaunched Dilla’s PayJay imprint to unleash the effort.
Yancey died in February 2006 after a long battle with lupus. He was 32.
The Diary Tracklisting
1. “The Introduction”
2. “The Anthem” feat. Frank & Dank
3. “Fight Club” feat. Nottz & Boogie
4. “The Shining Pt. 1 (Diamonds)” feat. Kenny Wray
5. “The Shining Pt. 2 (Ice)”
7. “Gangsta Boogie” feat. Snoop Dogg & Kokane
8. “Drive Me Wild”
9. “Give Them What They Want”
10. “The Creep (The O)”
11. “The Ex” feat. Bilal
12. “So Far”
13. “Fuck The Police”
14. “The Diary”