Jay Love Japan.

About a month ago, news came out that the latest posthumous album release by J-Dilla, Jay Love Japan, was going to be delayed indefinitely. While mine and many others order’s were canceled, I have seen copies of it floating around on eBay and on some Europe-based ecommerce sites. So clearly it was prepped for release, but then, pulled at the very last minute, just days before. With no explanation, other than this image:

Jay Love Japan - Delayed Indefinitely

Since word first came of this album after Dilla’s death, there really hasn’t been a whole lot of confirmed information about it. It was to be released on Operation Unknown, a relatively unknown (as the name attests) hip-hop label. Various sites mentioned the release and more questions were asked: what was Dilla’s intent for this album?; how much of it was completed before his death?; was it meant to be a beats-only album or to feature vocalists?; which vocalists worked with Dilla on the album?

Adding to the mystery was a promo that dropped last year. It had 10 tracks, nearly all with vocals. Operation Unknown then let us know that the promo was unofficial. It wasn’t as Dilla intended it. All but one or two tracks were to have vocalists, the rest beats. Who then, added the vocals? To date, nobody knows.

When will the album finally be released? From the onset, this has been shrouded in mystery. And this is not the only album of his that’s still awaiting release. His 2002-2003 solo album on MCA Records hasn’t seen the light of day either.

Record companies still have a lot to learn about how they communicate with their customers. Would a little openness and honesty hurt here? Especially to those interested in Dilla’s legacy, Those without patience to wait for the official release, have probably run to P2P networks or BitTorrent by now. There’s a huge opportunity here, in terms of promotion of albums and fostering relationships to fans. But as record stores keep closing and more and more artists move towards myspace and the like, I wonder if it’s too late to fix this. So long as they keep spending more time and energy on suing their customers and inventing new DRM solutions, their model, as they know it, is surely doomed.

RIP J Dilla - You are missed.

Update: It’s been a while since I posted this, but there is some new info out now. On dilla.biz I found this: “Jay Love Japan ANNOUNCEMENT: Jay Love Japan was delayed the very last minute due to legal matters beyond our control. The misunderstanding was straightened out, and all forms of this album will be released tentatively before the end of 2007. Due to the overwhelming demand and delay, the release of this album will include a special bonus CD + a special experience. Expect the Japanese version of this CD + VINYL.”