Zane Lowe made a surprise announcement today on his Beats 1 radio show: J Dilla's The Diary, a lost project from 2002, will hit shelves later this year. Dilla raps on the album, and according to Rolling Stone, it features his own beats as well as contributions from Pete Rock, Madlib, Karriem Riggins, and others.
Nas, whose Mass Appeal label is helping to release The Diary, spoke with Lowe about his early encounters with Dilla. "I knew his stuff," Nas remembered, "but I didn’t know it was him. I was a fan before I knew who to attach a name to... I was like, 'that’s the next guy I’m gonna work with.' As I said that, the news came that he was not well… I didn’t know all these guys were working with him—Common, D’angelo, Erykah Badu. I was late. I was late to the party."
"I feel like he was still growing with his style," Nas continued. "He could do records that was Janet Jackson level and still do Common, the neo-soul thing. He had all those things wrapped up in him... He had his own thing, and it represented an era that was leaving us."
Dilla died in 2007, and the album took nearly a decade to assemble. Eothen "Egon" Alapatt, the creative director of Dilla's estate, told Rolling Stone, "this record was a pain in the fucking ass." Alapatt also said he hopes to release alternate version of two other Dilla records, Ruff Draft and Donuts.
Listen to previously unreleased Dilla tune, "The Introduction," below.