James Dewitt Yancey , better known by the stage names J Dilla and Jay Dee, was an American record producer and rapper who emerged from the mid-1990s underground hip-hop scene in Detroit, Michigan. According to his obituary at NPR.org, he “was one of the music industry’s most influential hip-hop artists, working with big-name acts including A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, Erykah Badu, and Common.” Yancey died in 2006 of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura or TTP.
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If someone has TTP, blood clots form in small blood vessels throughout the body. The clots can limit or block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body’s organs, such as the brain, kidneys, and heart. As a result, serious health problems can develop. The increased clotting that occurs in TTP also uses up platelets (PLATE-lets) in the blood. Platelets are blood cell fragments that help form blood clots. These cell fragments stick together to seal small cuts and breaks on blood vessel walls and stop bleeding.
With fewer platelets available in the blood, bleeding problems can occur. People who have TTP may bleed inside their bodies, underneath the skin, or from the surface of the skin. When cut or injured, they also may bleed longer than normal.
J Dilla’s illness and medication caused dramatic weight loss in 2003 onwards, forcing him to publicly confirm speculation about his health in 2004. Despite a slower output of major releases and production credits in 2004 and 2005, his cult status remained strong within his core audience. Articles in publications confirmed rumors of ill health and hospitalization during this period, but these were downplayed by Jay himself. The seriousness of his condition became public in November 2005 when J Dilla toured Europe performing from a wheelchair.
The impact J Dilla had on DJ’s and music producers was tremendous according to bi-coastal DJ Joe Kollege. “Dilla’s production was so funky and soulful and he wasn’t afraid to take chances musically. He was a trendsetter. As a dj,…