The Yancey’s have always been a very musical family. With Mom being a former opera singer and Dad playing bass in a Jazz band, the four kids were heavily influenced by music from the very beginning. Oldest-born James, who was gifted with an extraordinary perception of music at a very early stage of his life, started developing a special passion for Hip Hop along other genres soon and eventually started spinning records in the park at child-age. Back then nobody knew that kid would eventually turn out to become one of Hip Hop’s most important producers of all time, as he went on to pursue his musical passion and soon started producing music under the name of Jay Dee – and later J Dilla.
John, who’s the youngest of four, was naturally influenced by the music his older brother listened to and would soon nurture a passion and talent for music and especially Hip Hop himself. While music wasn’t his first choice from the start, as he went to Central Michigan University to play ball, a rather sad incident made him change directions. On February 10th 2006 James Dewitt Yancey died after suffering from a rare blood disease. After the passing of his brother, John decided to drop out of Central Michigan University, and continue the family’s involvement with music under the name of Illa J. It soon became clear that he didn’t pass on the Yancey Family’s musical talent. After joining Slum Village, a renowned rap group that was also formerly accompanied by J Dilla too, and releasing his musical debut „Yancey Boys“, a dedication to his older brother that also featured some Jay Dee productions, he started gaining some reputation. Followed by a second EP entitled 4 Past Midnite and a Slum Village project called „Evolution“ he collaborated with Frank Nitt, who also worked on Yancey Boys, for Sunset Blvd. before he released his last LP in 2015 simply called „ILLA J“ on Brookly based label Bastard Jazz Records.
Fast forward, last Friday our friends of Jakarta Records just announced that Illa had now signed with them and that the Detroit based artist is about to drop his new album this summer. The Album called „Home“ is a pure dedication to the city he grew up in. While the music is entirely produced by L.A. based artist Calvin Valentine, Yancey expressed in a recent statement, that the album will be very soulful and – a little surprisingly – contain a lot of singing, as he sees himself as singer / songwriter first and went on to reinforce his singing voice with vocal coach Betty Lane over the past several months. Read the full statement about his upcoming album „Home“ here:
„Singing was always a big passion for me..I was always fascinated at all the acrobatic vocal runs some singers do with their voice. To me it’s an athletic thing and I definitely see myself as a vocal athlete..and for that deeper understanding of my voice that I now have I have to thank my vocal coach Betty Lane. She literally helped me to push out the voice that had been waiting there for years, ready to come out, like „John use me, I’m your voice“ and It was always a goal of mine to make a project that showcases my singing. I see myself as a singer songwriter first, I just grew up in the generation of rap, so the 2 styles just fused together naturally. I started writing poems around 8 or 9 years old, then songs, and then raps. I eventually put it all together…22 years later…the journey to my heart , through all the ups and downs of my career trying to discover my voice, who I am, all my travels around the globe. It all leads back to Home, in the most literal sense. The house I’m sitting in front of on the video for „Home“ is the house my parents brought me home to as a baby. So for me it’s like going back to the original source, the original purpose. That purpose for me is to sing. That’s why this album is so special for me…and Calvin made the perfect soundtrack for me to take you on a soulful stroll through my hometown, Detroit Michigan aka Motown. Hope you enjoy! As Dank would say..“Bless up!!!!!!!!“
„Home“ will hit stores on June 30th, but you can already listen to the first track „Sam Cook“ on Jakarta Record’s Soundcloud!