Friday, February 5, 2010


Some of you may already know, but for those that don't. This is my JDilla story and how his music has influenced my work.

I became aware of Jay Dee some where around 1997. From a close friend of mine in art school banging a underground bootleg of Slum Village Fantastic Vol.1. in his apartment. From that day things changed. I began to study the sound of Dilla's production. Trying to interpret his sound thru my drawings, paintings and designs. Seeking out anything he had his hands in. Led me back to A Tribe Called Quest.The search for that vibe also guides me back to Tony! Toni! Toné! and later down the line Lucy Pearl. That sound and Saadiq's avaunt guard approach to song writing, gave me the foundation for my visual style along with all of my other life influences. I'm just giving you this info to preface how powerful this process would later unfold.

Aight ,bang! Fast forward late 2005. I'm bouncing back and forth between coasts. My partner and I in crime RonJ, were just getting our feet wet in the biz with our brand Leroy Jenkins. We had very small distribution then, one of our main retailers at that time was the Union LA store.

Shortly after Dillas untimely passing... I get a call From Eddie Pres of BBE records. He's in the office with one of my High school buddies Mazik. So Mazik reaches out and puts me in touch with Eddie. He begins to tell me how one of the last times he was with Dilla he was rocking one of our floral hoodies. Which made since cuz he lived practically a block behind the Union LA store.
So Eddie then begins to ask me if I would be down to design the packaging for Jay Dee's album The Shining. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. So crazy, to have the honor to design for the person that had been inspiring my style. It was just sad to me that JDilla wasn't here to work with, so i knew i had to do my best.

The direction was simple. To create a classic look that will stand the test of time just like the sound Jay Dee created. The back and forth with the cats over at BBE was messing up the connection with the vibe, so I asked them to connect me with MaDukes.

I met up with MaDukes at Dilla's crib, the reception from her was one of the warmest close family feelings, not far from love of my own Moms. I was also greeted by JRocc and a few other family members. After a brief tour of some of JDilla's prized possessions. We began to talk about the point Dilla was trying to get across with the title of the album, The Shining. Not in the sense of Jack Nic getting all crazy in a erie hotel... but what ScatMan Cruthers and the little boy in the movie had. The ability to speak without saying words out ya mouth.
Things were starting to click, but I was still a little unsure. And i knew that wut ever i was gonna do, should have the complete direction and blessing from MaDukes. Close to the end of our meeting MaDukes ran into the other room and came back with a handful of photos from when Dilla was a youngster . When she finished giving me every detail and memory of the pics...she handed me the photos and told me, she feels my vibe and that the connection is very close. She also told me to do what I feel is right.
My mind was just blown. I got back to the lab and began to go thru the photos.
The first at the top of the stack was a pic of Young Dilla in cap and gown with the classic silhouette in the back ground. This was it! Everything from there started to fall into place. The vibe had been set and Dilla's spirit began to work thru...

The final crafted cameo logo.

After completing the project, i had to move back to NYC because we where setting up the LJ hq.and i never got a chance to return all the photos MaDukes gave me.
A few years have gone by and i have taken really good care of these photos.
Last weekend i got word that MaDukes was in Brooklyn. So this was my chance to return the pics. She was so pleased to get them and suprised that i even still had them.

Thank you MaDukes, Thank you Dilla. I hope you are pleased with every thing.