James Dewitt Yancey, also known as Jay Dee but better known as J Dilla, left this earth over a decade ago yet his influence still rings loud in the producers of today. There’s a mythology around his sampling and the ways he created emotional, moving records through loops on the drum machine, and his work set a blueprint for modern day hip-hop and soul, along with the late Nujabes. February is the month fans reflect and reminisce on the impact of these two moguls of music.

But before he was J Dilla, Yancey was John Doe. Haight Street gallery Family Affair presented a photo series exhibition on J Dilla’s birthday, February 7, called A Day in the Life of John Doe, a collection of rare, never-before-seen photos of J Dilla in his earliest years, when he signed his producer credits beneath the aforementioned alias. Shot from 1997 to 1999 by music producer, filmmaker and Detroit native Waajeed, who shared a 17-year friendship with Jay, the images intimately capture the portrait and process of the man behind the myth.

A Day in the Life of John Doe by waajeed
Family Affair
Open from February 7 to March 23