While the life of well-respected producer and emcee J Dilla was cut short in 2006, the legacy of the man born James Yancey will continue to survive through his influential music and The J Dilla Foundation, created by his mother Maureen Yancey. In an interview with BrooklynBodega.com, “Ma Dukes” recounted a moment during his music career that pleasantly caught her by surprise, as well as the gratitude she feels toward his fans across the globe.
Fondly remembering the first time she heard Dilla’s production for Q-Tip’s “Breathe and Stop” record off Amplified, she stated, “I missed it totally while he was composing it, but I was out in the truck riding with my husband in Detroit, and I heard a couple of beats come on before any vocals, and I jumped up in the front of the truck and said ‘That’s Jay! That’s Jay.’”
She continued, “I called him on the phone all crazy and everything saying ‘Did you do this? Did you do this?’ And he said ‘Didn’t you know?’ But he never discussed those things. I never knew about magazine articles, newspapers, anything that was going on until somebody else called me and told me. He never even talked about it.”
She later spoke on Jay Dee’s ever-growing fan base and what it means to her and The J Dilla Foundation. Hosting previous events in honor of Dilla, Yancey explained, “I’m always surprised because it’s just getting bigger. That’s what knocks me off my feet. The fans, their love never dies. They’re staunch fans. They’re there for life. I’ve never seen anything like the fans overseas, and when I was in New York, it was just incredible.”
Happy that the trend of faithful listeners continues to grow, she added, “the crowds get bigger, the ages are getting younger, and more people are introduced to him each year and they’re going back to get the music. It’s just a tremendous gathering of people everywhere and from different walks of life.”
You can read the full interview here.
In related news, next week during the Brooklyn Bodega Hip Hop Festival, Maureen Yancey will be joined by Q-Tip to talk about the life of J Dilla as part of the Bodega Education Initiative. Tickets for that event can be purchased here.