"Dilla spent the better part of 2002 working on an album for MCA that featured his rapping over contributions from other producers with whom he had connected and whose music he respected. At the time, he was known primarily for his beats, yet reviled for his [emceeing] by mist anyone not from his hometown of Detroit. The project was to be an intentional freak of the industry," Chicago writer and film-maker Ronnie Reese wrote within his liner notes accompanying Stones Throw's 2007 expanded re-issue of Ruff Draft EP. J Dilla's ultimately scrapped and indefinitely shelved '02 MCA Album, or "Pay Jay," as it's long been referred, was recorded between his widely underrated BBE solo debut Welcome 2 Detroit and adventurous stylistic shift that materialized across Ruff Draft EP during his relocation from Detroit to LA. "Dilla had agreed to a one-year contract on MCA with an option for a second, provided he produced two accepted releases. One of those releases was to be his solo project, and the other a full-length entitled 48 Hours from Detroit rappers and childhood friends, Frank-N-Dank," Reese's in-depth liner notes continue. Unfortunately however, both Dilla's MCA Album and 48 Hours were "subsequently languished in Hip-Hop purgatory" when unbeknownst to either Dilla or Frank-N-Dank, MCA suddenly folded into Geffen prior to the onslaught of 2004. Just a mere three days after his 32nd birthday and the release of his highly-revered magnum opus, Donuts, James "J Dilla" Yancey passed away on February 10th, 2006 due to complications related to Lupus and TTP.
Although a handful of memorable and sub-par projects have been released throughout the years following Dilla's untimely death (including The Shining, Jay Love Japan, Jay Stay Paid, Rebirth of Detroit, and Dillatronic), I think it's safe to say The MCA Album has always been in the back of every donut-loving crate-digger's mind. It appears as though an early, seemingly incomplete, 11-track Pay Jay bootleg leaked around April-May 2008, which likely stemmed from a 2003 MCA-released promo CD-R; housed within were beats hand-crafted by Dilla enthusiasts Nottz, Pete Rock, Kanye West, Waajeed, Hi-tek, Bink!, Supa Dave West, Karriem Riggins, and Roots drummer ?uestlove. "Now the vocal album – that is something that I know he had a desire to see out, as he did Ruff Draft and, oddly enough, an album he'd made of noodling improvised keyboard lines over drum breaks (one of those made it to The Shining album). The vocal album – The Diary [Pay Jay], as we're calling it – is nearly done and should be out later this year," Now-Again founder and former Stones Throw general manager Eothen "Egon" Alapatt revealed within our acclaimed 2015 The Witzard interview, when prodded about any planned Donuts follow-ups. The Diary has been rumored since 2012-13 and was preceded by three Rappcats-released 12-inch EP's: "Anthem" and Gary Numan-flipping "Trucks," Diamonds & Ice, and "Give 'em What They Want," as well as an exclusive badge-shaped Record Store Day re-release of "F--k The Police."
"[The Diary is] the last record that he actually wanted out – i.e., he said, in his own words, this record should come out during his lifetime. The last one," Egon recently told Rolling Stone staff writer and #tcot drummer Christopher R. Weingarten, concerning the authenticity of their compiled recordings. Alapatt and members of James Yancey's estate have decided to re-launch his PayJay imprint to release The Diary, in conjunction with Nas' recently-formed Mass Appeal Records. Egon, House Shoes, J.Rocc, long-time engineer Dave Cooley, and a number of additional Dilla affiliates have spent the past nine arduous years meticulously "unpacking the files, finding the software that he used, [and] getting it again, because at that point, it was already archaic." This freshly-assembled 14-track version of The Diary is currently available for pre-order ahead of its scheduled April 15th release and includes aforementioned production work from Madlib, Pete Rock, Hi-tek, Nottz, House Shoes, Supa Dave West, Bink!, Karriem Riggins, and Dilla himself; similar to 2008's Pay Jay leak, The Diary will showcase Dilla's whip-worthy flip of Gary Numan's 1979 New Wave hit "Cars" (fittingly re-titled "Trucks"), a ?uestlove & Karriem Riggins-produced cover of Vanity 6's "Drive Me Wild," "F--k The Police," Snoop Dogg-featuring "Gangsta Boogie," and House Shoes-produced "The Introduction." "That beat is 16 years old. Make 'em count... I made [it] in 1999... Dilla replayed the synths and put the ill breakdown at the end," @HouseShoes wrote in a series of Tweets accompanying Nas' Zane Lowe-premiered "The Introduction" world-wide release, which initially, wasn't attributed to Dilla's long-time DJ, hometown friend, and recent 12-inch coordinator. Let's "TURN IT UP; A LITTLE LOUDER," to quote the man himself.