John Derek Yancey, better known as “Illa J” and sometimes “John Regal” (born October 13, 1986 in Detroit, Michigan) is a rapper, singer, producer, songwriter, and multi instrumentalist. He is a former member of the legendary group Slum Village and is the younger brother of Hip Hop icon J Dilla (James Dewitt Yancey 1974-2006), a record producer who was a great influence to the hip-hop scene working with artist such as A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, Common, Erykah Badu and MF Doom and more.
Illa J was exposed to music at a very early age from his brother making beats in the basement of their house to his parents’ acapella group and rehearsals in their living room, his family was very musically inclined. His father was also a ghostwriter for Motown Records. Yancey joined the church choir at the age of six and recorded his first rap at the age of 13 with his big brother J Dilla at Studio A in Detroit.