Though not a household name on the level of hip-hop's other martyr figures, for true heads, the producer James Yancey—aka Jay Dee, aka J Dilla—is a saint on par with Tupac, Biggie and Jam Master Jay. Eight years after Yancey's death from a blood disease, the artists who owe their careers to his soulful beats are still paying homage. The Welcome to Dillaville tour features two such acts: Slum Village, the Detroit group of which Yancey was once a member; and Tre "Slimkid3" Hardson and Fatlip of the Pharcyde, whose second album, 1995's Labcabincalifornia, introduced Yancey's idiosyncratic production to a wider audience. We asked Hardson, who lives in Portland, to recall the first time he heard Jay Dee.
"To us, he was a really mellow cat. When I was on the road with Yancey Boys and Slum Village in Europe, I got to hear more about what kind of cat he actually was. He was so quiet around us, yet he was Superman in Detroit. He was always putting people on. He had a big heart about things. But he had his player side as well. I always saw this calm dude. I never saw anyone who'd be like how we were, which was just balls to the wall."
SEE IT: Welcome to Dillaville, featuring Slimkid3 and Fatlip, Slum Village, Serge Severe and Elton Cray, is at the Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE Cesar Chavez Blvd., on Monday, May 5. 8 pm. $18 advance, $20 day of show. All ages.