My Dilemma Over Dilla: Detroit’s Angel
Due to legalities and the possibility of legal action being taken against me by those in charge of merchandise related to or pertaining to the name or likeness of James “J Dilla” Yancey, I will not be releasing the tee I had planned to drop commemorating the 5 Year Anniversary of his death, today – February 10, 2011.
I spent much of yesterday promoting the fact that I had a goal set to raise $10K in his name, but unfortunately I’ve been advised against the idea from a number of parties suggesting I gracefully make due with having good intentions rather than pushing good product and helping to provide monetary aide to either lupus research or the promotion of the arts for those who are not in the position to express their crafts due to financial restraints through the JDilla Foundation.
As many of you already know, having legal action taken against me is something that I’m used to, and adversity is something that I thrive heavily off of, but the sensitivity of dealing with a dedication piece for a man who can only watch while those who try to help benefit his cause and legacy are shut down again and again was too much for me to move forward with. Though I did my best to stand my ground respectively, plead my case thoroughly and be honest in my intentions with the people I was in touch with, I got the sense that this wasn’t a realm to be playing in. And while I am the type to stand up to a giant for the sake of proving you don’t always have to win to be the victor, the fact that Dilla himself is not present to speak on this subject put me in a position to step away.
The feeling I have over this matter is bitter. I am an artist and a designer, and often my medium is graphics on shirts. That’s my creative voice and that’s my way of living semi-eternally with those who support my opinions, creations and passions. I’m forced in this situation to suppress my true motivations to create and also to help those in need because of legalities, contracts, laws, hoopla and hoop jumping. It’s bullshit. And I’m not thrilled about this at all.
In my own gestures to try to go about this in the best way possible, I was met with warning signs from a number of sources. Some were friends, others acquaintances, others a little closer to the powers that be. And from all angles, my mind was slightly boggled.
In one email, I replied:
“I have a goal to raise $10k whether it’s for Lupus or the promotion of the arts for those who are not in the position to express their crafts due to financial restraints, and I will get there. If I hold that money until it’s time to sort out where it rightfully needs to be, I will. But what I won’t do is cut my passion for this short due to fear of what an attorney is going to pick apart about the design, knowing damn well that the law aside, you, me, Ma Dukes and Dilla himself would not be talking legalities when it came down to wanting to do good to benefit the creative and ill positioned.”
I was given the opportunity to give the funds directly to Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, and even in exploring this I was hit with more skepticism about whether my acts would be taken bitterly or not. Again, I was shocked, thinking that there are so many boundaries implemented when your intentions are solely to help those who need it. On the phone I referenced how people fleeing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were turned back by soldiers with guns. In a time of desperate need, it seems we will go in reverse toward embarrassingly desperate measures to refuse aide where it’s been terribly absent.
I’m still in shock over this all.
Tonight, during the emails and phone conversations, contemplations and decision making, I designed another tee. It’s not the shirt I was going to release today to commemorate the 5 year death anniversary of a man who’s work ethic I so strongly have tried to model my own after. It’s an entirely different one. It’s a design fueled from the frustration and anger with the way some of our passions are turned to pits of coal gone cold. It’s a reminder to me and for me that this whole ordeal is being overseen by those above us. It’s a piece that brings me back to the times when I sat at home in a tiny apartment with no heat or air conditioning, designing because I thought that my passions might be able to light a spark in the heart of someone else one day; during a time when all I had was my girl and an idea, and even while I was broke, I created because I knew I was born to continue to create as my grandfather did.
They can’t stop me from putting this one out. This isn’t between me and them really. This is bigger than us all.
Take it in.. and let me know your thoughts on this whole situation.
Detroit’s Angel by Bryan Espiritu for TheLegendsLeague
Inspired by Big Sean’s line: “Detroit’s Angel, I even got Red Wings”.
Rest in Peace J Dilla. Your work inspires my life.
- Bryan 'be.' Espiritu