Detroit Pistons tap Royce Da 5'9" for merch collaboration in honor of J Dilla

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On Wednesday (March 6), the Detroit Pistons revealed that they've teamed up with Royce Da 5'9" to create a new merch collection in tribute to J Dilla. In a series of images shared on social media, Royce and others modeled caps, hoodies, and tees that both recognized the late producer and the NBA team. The capsule is set to be released exclusively through Detroit's Little Caesars Arena on March 13, celebrated by locals as 313 Day.

"What better reason to come together in unification than Dilla. I’m honored to even have the job,” Royce expressed about the collaboration to Billboard. "My thing was, let’s not redo the same thing over and over that’s been done. Be as original as you could possibly be."

The "Caterpillar" talent continued by praising Dilla as Hip Hop's premiere beatsmith. "I would define him as [the] GOAT,” he stated. “I don’t really know any other way I could look at it. You had beatmakers and you had producers. I think J Dilla was both, but in the beatmaking category, I don’t think there’s anybody better.”

Dilla’s daughter, Ja’Mya Yancey, also expressed her feelings on the limited-edition line -- specifically, the items that merged the iconic MPC drum machine with Detroit's city layout. "It represents what made him James versus what made him J Dilla,” she said before adding that her father was "always very organized and clean" when it came to his personal fashion sense. "He even had a particular way he liked to dress me as a kid whenever he bought me clothes, too,” she recalled. “I have a picture of myself in an oversized Avirex jacket he bought and ‘styled’ on me. I still have that jacket today."

Dilla -- whose real name was James Yancey -- passed away in 2006 at the age of 32. At the time, reports like the Guardian attributed his death to thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare blood disease, and lupus.