Jakarta Records Presents: ‘Home,’ by Illa J
It would be easy for singer-songwriter John Yancey, known artistically as Illa J, to coast on the growing legend of his older brother, hip-hop producer J Dilla. But over the last 10 years, Illa J has worked to create his own lane, and to make the music in which he’s personally interested.
In that time, the Detroit native has released albums with rappers Frank Nitt and Slum Village, and production duo Potatohead People. While these projects have mostly featured Illa J as an MC, his artistic abilities extend far beyond that—for one thing, he can sing. In fact, he was singing long before he ever wrote rhymes; he just never released a project that highlighted that skill.
All of that’s changed with his new record, Home. Produced by frequent collaborator Calvin Valentine, the soul-sampling songs are the perfect backdrop for Illa J’s velvety voice.
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!!!!!!!!”
– Illa J