Seattle Chips In for Artist’s Estate

James “J Dilla” Yancey’s family’s still got bills to pay.

It's almost clichéd at this point to state that musicians are able to rake in more money dead than alive. Whether it's Kurt Cobain, 2Pac, or Elliott Smith, if an artist dies young, their fame rises exponentially and their estates often see the benefit.But that hasn't been the case with legendary Detroit-bred producer James "J Dilla" Yancey. While his fame has certainly increased since his death in 2006 at age 32 from lupus-related complications, his posthumous releases, despite their popularity, have either been bootlegged or illegally downloaded to the point that his estate is in disarray. So revered hip-hop producer Pete Rock recently collaborated with Dilla's mother, Maureen Yancey, to curate a new album, Jay $tay Paid, full of unreleased or rare material, which hits stores this week. The disc itself is full of mind-rattling beats and collaborations—some from his early days, others from his extended hospital stays, and others pulled from old floppy discs and Dates. According to the disc's liner notes, Maureen calls Jay $tay Paid the missing link in his legacy.Around the country, a few release parties are being thrown in honor of the album, and Seattle DJs Marc Sense and Topspin were graciously asked to organize an event here. "Me and Topspin did a party a few years ago where we spun Dilla's music all night long; that's where it really started," says Marc Sense. "It went really well, and then we got asked to help make this party happen; it just made perfect sense."Topspin was a fan of Dilla's music even before he adopted that moniker. "Well, for me, J Dilla is a different entity than the musician who I first fell in love with who was Jay Dee [Dilla's original stage name]. I've been a fan since the Slum Village [his first group] Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1) tapes were going around.""Basically, it'll be a perfect night to really just nerd out to Dilla's music and have a damn good time," Sense says.

 
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