Just over halfway through Black History Month, also dubbed a season to celebrate the life and legacy of the late J Dilla in conjunction with the legendary producer’s birthday, fans today [Thursday, February 18] were blessed with some wonderful news.

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The Estate of James Yancey has revived J Dilla’s longstanding company PayJay, presenting the imprint with its next chapter by way of releasing his highly anticipated vocal album, The Diary, on April 15th in conjunction with Mass Appeal Records.

The album was initially slated for a 2002 release, but has been kept in the vault ever since, literally locked away in a storage unit in Detroit while Dilla transitioned into living and creating in Los Angeles, before passing in 2006.


The Diary is the final selection of unheard material that Dilla himself had assembled for release while he was still alive, and lends crucial insight into his thought process during a time where his career was leveling up and capturing the attention of major labels and mainstream audiences.

The 14-track album features vocals from J Dilla himself, as well as Snoop Dogg, Bilal, Kokane, Frank and Dank, Nottz and Boogie. The production credits proudly go to Dilla, Madlib, Pete Rock, Hi-tek, Nottz, House Shoes, Supa Dave West, Bink! and Karriem Riggins.

Nas broke the news this morning during an interview on Beats1, sharing the never-before-heard track, “The Introduction.”

As we will indulge in the audible treats that make up The Diary in its finalized form, we will be listening to a decade-long process where Dilla’s work was kept true-to-form via the efforts of his Estate’s creative director Eothen Alapatt, who also was the long term general manager of Stones Throw Records and the A&R for Donuts and Jaylib. Alapatt’s previous archival Dilla work includes the expanded Ruff Draft issue from 2008. The Estate of James Yancey is overseen by California’s Probate Court on behalf of Yancey’s four heirs – his mother, Maureen “Madukes” Yancey, his brother John “Illa J” Yancey and his two daughters, Ja’Mya Yancey and Ty-monae Whitlow.

Knowing that Dilla’s legacy is preserved in the most positive and genuine way possible has fans further anticipating that the record being dusted off and set free posthumously in 2016.

Full track list:

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)
6. Trucks
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