Illa J Celebrates His Big Brother’s Memory & Reclaims J Dilla’s Spirit as His Own (Audio)

On October 2, Illa J will be releasing his second solo album, the first since his 2008 debut, Yancey Boys. A move to Montreal, some time spent touring with Slum Village, and the ongoing pursuit of his own music in the wake of his older brother’s 2006 passing has culminated in his forthcoming self-titled LP, being released on the Bastard Jazz imprint. Featuring production from the Canadian duo Potatohead People, the new album is demonstrative of Illa J’s desire to explore musical diversity, while maintaining the Hip-Hop sensibilities set forth by his big bro, Jay Dee (aka J Dilla).

In the latest single, “Never Left,” Illa J speaks directly to his sibling, offering up nods to J Dilla (“Tainted love is all around, and that shit ain’t cool”) while mourning his absence. The song follows “Strippers” (featuring co-production from fellow Montreal resident Kaytranada) and “Universe,” both of which feature wholly new sounds that stand apart from Yancey Boys, which featured posthumously released production from Dilla. “Never Left” is somewhere in between, built upon a jazzy, chilled out beat reminiscent of an early SV track but incorporating bold lyrics not heard on other singles, particularly towards the end of the track, when Illa J calls out those he says are profiting unjustly from his brother’s death. Give it a listen here.

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