Published Jan 17, 2007Renowned hip-hop producer Jay Dee (born James Yancey, aka J Dilla) died February 10 after struggling with a long-term incurable blood disease, as well as lupus from a ruptured kidney. He began his influential hip-hop career in the 90s by producing the Pharcyde, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, and A Tribe Called Quest as a member of their production team Ummah. Dee also co-founded the highly acclaimed group Slum Village and worked as a celebrated solo artist. Pinnacle moments came in working on DAngelos milestone Voodoo and most recently, Commons Grammy-nominated Be. Under the name J Dilla, Dee recently released his second solo album, Donuts (recorded in the hospital), only three days before his death, and recently toured Europe performing in a wheelchair. Dee was also in the midst of recording another solo album, The Shining, expected later this year. He was 32.
Toronto lost some great local talent on January 25, when musician/artist Steve Banks died of heart failure at the age of 46. Former lead singer of 80s punk band Ministry of Love and a member of 90s psych rockers Trans Love Airways, Banks was an underground hero to many. Despite battling drug problems, Banks reportedly led a clean, drug-free life in his final years. A fundraising memorial concert will be held at the Drake Hotel in Toronto on March 13 in order to raise money to build a public memorial, reissue his music and exhibit his art.