JLBarrow • April 10, 2008 • 1 Comment

Several weeks ago an Ad was taken out in Billboard magazine by the executor of the late James “J-Dilla” Yancey’s estate:

In an effort to bring some order to the handling of his work, his estate has hired one of his former managers, Jonathan Dworkin. Dworkin recently sent a letter out to friends, fans and associates of Dilla in an attempt to clear up misconceptions about the Billboard advertisement. This is a copy of the letter unedited. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Nodfactor.com and is presented for information purposes only.

To the friends and fans of the late J Dilla:

Before I get into this, I just want to say that I am speaking only on my own behalf, not on behalf of the executor or attorney for J Dilla’s estate.

There has been a lot of chatter about the ad taken out by J Dilla’s estate in Billboard a couple of weeks ago- quite a bit of speculation about what the motivation was. I just wanted to say simply- this is about one thing, protecting J Dilla’s legacy for his children. I was brought on as manager for the remaining assets of the estate a couple of months ago (I had managed Dilla for several years while he was alive) and I was shocked, sickened even, to see what’s gone on over the last couple of years.

Now, there are a number of people who have somehow been involved with Dilla’s legacy that had the best of intentions. In fact, I’ve found that most people I’ve spoken to have had nothing but good intentions. They did a deal, released an album, put out some merch in partnership with somebody who claimed to represent the estate. Most of these people only wanted to know that Dilla’s family was benefiting from doing these kinds of things. The message to these people is- reach out to the representatives of the estate, if we can find a way to work things out amicably, we will do everything we can to do so. Ask anyone that has talked to us so far if we have been unreasonable, shady, or wrongly intentioned. As the ad said, the only person who can authorize anything on Dilla’s behalf is Arty Erk, executor for the estate. (Because of a very unfortunate typo, Arty’s email address was incorrectly listed in the ad, it should be DillaEstate@wecnyc.com). IF YOU HAVE A PIECE OF PAPER AND IT’S NOT SIGNED BY DILLA OR ARTY, YOU ARE NOT TALKING TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE.

Then, there is a whole other class of people, who, if you are among them, you know who you are:
These are people that put out records with Dilla’s name and POCKETED THE MONEY.
These are people who threw events in cities all over the world claiming to benefit Dilla’s estate and POCKETED THE MONEY.
These are people who put Dilla’s name or likeness on a t-shirt and never thought once about his family.
These are people who continue to keep material that Dilla gave them in their basement waiting for their chance to exploit it and make a buck.

Then there is the gray area. People who couldn’t resist. People who couldn’t resist putting Dilla’s unreleased beat tapes on every music blog they could because they wanted to share the music with the world. I get it- but really, do you think that’s right?

I’ll say this simply. I’m sure all of this speculation will continue. So, I want to be very clear. The estate is acting for a single purpose- to make sure that proceeds from Dilla’s work benefit the people Dilla wanted it to benefit. I’m not trying to shut anyone down, kill anyone’s record or party, or assassinate anyone’s character. I’m not flexing my ego or fighting with anyone. I’m only trying to carry out Dilla’s wishes.

So, if you really care about Dilla and his legacy, help DILLA’s ESTATE. Stop swapping files of his beat tapes. Stop releasing illegal product. STOP POCKETING MONEY IN HIS NAME. Tell the people that are doing this to stop. When you do this, and this is not an exaggeration or a joke, you are stealing from children. Come on. You may think you know the REAL story, but I’m telling you, this is the REAL STORY.

Jonathan Dworkin

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