On September 24th, the Smithsonian opened The National Museum of African American History and Culture with a grand ceremony. Thirteen years after its construction was authorized by President George W. Bush and Congress, patrons and lucky friends were allowed the first look at the 400,000 square foot structure containing centuries of Black achievements.
Among the many entertainers who are enshrined within the halls is the late James DeWitt Yancey, aka J-Dilla. His mother Maureen Yancey, affectionately known as “Ma Dukes,” donated the producer’s MPC and Moog to the museum for all to see.
“It’s such an honor,” she tells WatchLOUD.com. “He actually has two exhibits there so I’m double proud. Both are in the ‘Musical Crossroads’ which is on the fourth floor, the inaugural floor. I donated his Moog that was made especially for him by Robert Moog, which was a treasure for him. It’s in a display right next to 9th Wonder’s. That way you’ll know you’re not lost, because it’s not titled yet with his name. It has actual studio information and logs from his sessions with ?uestlove, things no one else has. And then he has another exhibit at the other end of the hall in its own cubicle and it’s pictures of the Soulquarians–the only picture of them in their entirety– it’s posted above his MPC 1200.”
In addition to the Smithsonian installation, Ma Dukes spoke to us about her new children’s book based on the life of J-Dilla, which features contributions from Lil Key, the 16-year-old MC from Jermaine Dupri and Queen Latifah’s Lifetime series, “The Rap Game.”
“It’s a book that I’ve written about my son in his early years, how he started out with his love of music, what he obtained through it and those that helped him to his final destination.”
Ms. Yancey says the book is ideal for young children who don’t yet read and can follow along to the audio, which is contained on a USB drive that resembles a cassette tape. You can go online and pre-order the book at www.jdillamerch.com.
“I’m thrilled and excited because Lil Key is clean and myself being child development associate for many years, you worry about what’s given and placed in the face of your children and what they hear. So when you give them clean things and don’t have to worry about [language] they’ll go back over and over.”