The Detroit Pistons announced a retail collaboration with Grammy Award-nominated and top-rated rap lyricist Royce 5’9, celebrating the life and legacy of Detroit-born producer, songwriter, and rapper J. Dilla and his impact on music and culture. The capsule will be available for purchase on March 13 on Pistons313Shop.com.
The announcement took place on what would have been Dilla’s 50th birthday, almost 18 years after he tragically passed away from complications from a combination of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and lupus.
Often referred to as one of, if not the greatest hip-hop producers of all time, the Pistons felt a responsibility to tell the Detroit native’s story, especially coming off the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
“Those familiar with Dilla’s musical genius understand his impact on hip-hop but there are still so many who aren’t familiar with his legacy,” said Bilal Saeed, VP of Brand & Marketing Strategy. “The Pistons wanted to tell his story in a creative way while also continuing to shed light on the city’s impact on music around the world.”
The team was connected to Dilla’s long-time friend Frank Nitt, who introduced the Pistons to Dilla’s Estate and the family his four heirs – his daughters Ja’Mya Yancey and Ty’Monae Whitlow, his brother John “Illa J” Yancey and his mother Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey. From there, the project was set in motion.
“It has honestly been a long time coming,” Ja’Mya Yancey said. “I am just so glad that we were finally able to do something so major through the appropriate channels and highlight my dad in a way that was fun and exciting while respecting his estate at the same time.”
“It means a lot to see the estate and the Pistons collaboration in celebrating and continuing my father’s legacy,” Ty’Monae Whitlow said. “Seeing the love Detroit has for him and for us as a family is heartwarming. I can’t wait to be a part of and to see what the collaboration entails.”
The collection was designed in partnership with Detroit-based rap star Royce 5’9”, who served as art director on the project. Royce and Dilla worked on several records together prior to Dilla’s passing, including “Let’s Grow.” According to Royce, this project serves to carry on Dilla’s legacy and complete their “unfinished business.”
“Dilla’s enduring legacy is a treasure that must be safeguarded at any expense,” said Royce. “It is a great honor to be responsible for curating his likeness in this exclusive merchandise drop entrusted to me by his estate and the Pistons. This campaign holds major significance not just for myself but also for the city of Detroit and the hip-hop community as a whole.”
Each piece in the capsule will pay homage to J. Dilla, his work, and his non-traditional style. Product images and details will be unveiled leading up to 313 Day, when the capsule drops and the Pistons will host the Toronto Raptors at Little Caesars Arena.