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Illa J – Home [320 + iTunes]

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.

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