J Dilla – Music’s Prodigal Son
2003 saw Dilla move in a different direction sonically and in terms of locale. His album Ruff Draft proved to be the catalyst for a different mindset in Dilla, only released on vinyl and on German label Groove Attack.
In 2004, a flood that destroyed nearly all of his work prompted Dilla to take his sounds and ideas to the West Coast, settling in LA’s music scene and gaining an even wider groundswell of support in the music community. There he produced music that was seemingly from a different planet, ripping words apart and marrying them with others to create a new melodic vernacular. His work with common beats and artists meshed seamlessly with artists that not even the most dedicated hip-hop heads could reference.
2004 also saw the production of Dilla’s work slow to a crawl. He was diagnosed with Moschowitz syndrome — a rare blood disease that continuously forms small blood clots throughout the body, causing damage to the kidneys, heart, and brain. As the disease began to noticeably take its toll, Dilla began to work publicly less and less. However, the disease didn’t stop his creativity and he managed to find inspiration even on his death-bed.
Up until three days before his death, Dilla laid down beats to his most haunting piece of work, 2006’s Donuts.