On Saturday, July 14th at the annual “DC Loves Dilla” benefit concert in the Washington, DC suburb of Silver Spring, MD, the spirit of late producer/rapper James “J Dilla” Yancey was alive and well. Two of Jay Dee's actual family members and musical partners of his past rocked in honor for the 7th annual tribute and fundraising event. Led by host Grap Luva and complete with a live band that flawlessly replicated some of Dilla's best work and a surprise guest appearance by burgeoning jazz pianist Robert Glasper, the event was exactly what Dilla would have expected according to members of the group where he found his fame, Slum Village.
Slum Village, Guilty Simpson and Frank Nitt (of Frank-N-Dank fame) were the headliners in the tribute event that featured some of D.C.'s best talent in Wes Felton, Maimouna Youssef, Labtekwon, Deborah Bond, Jay Mills and Yahzarah. A brief chat with T3, Young RJ and Dilla's younger brother Illa J revealed that their intention is to keep the producer's name in the conversation and not a ploy for profit.
“I love doing these tributes for my brother,” said Illa J coolly. “I know he's looking down proud and he would want us to keep going no matter what. He was working on this music up until [his death]. This is what he lived for.”
T3 added, “Dilla would have wanted us to keep the legacy alive. I mean I've known that man all my life and he gave me everything so it's only right we keep it moving and hold Ma Dukes down and keep the fans happy with that heat they expect.” Young RJ, the latest addition to the evolving crew that has also included Elzhi and Baatin (now deceased), agreed with his crew members on what Dilla may have envisioned in his passing.
“I talked to him until the end and he worked on this sh-t until his fingers bled. We have to keep it going,” said RJ.
Check out some photos from the event in the gallery.
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Photo: Wise Math