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Late and great producer, beatmaker and hip-hop artist J Dilla is set to be honoured at the Smithsonian when the Musical Crossroads exhibition opens in 2016.

The prolific artist’s tools of the trade will be shown in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture alongside artefacts from other significant acts such as Funkadelic, Chuck Berry and Ella Fitzgerald – essentially cementing his place as one of the driving forces in the mid-’90s beatmaking scene.

The collection, donated by James ‘J Dilla’ Yancey’s mother Maureen ‘Ma Dukes’ Yancey, will include Dilla’s Minimoog Voyager synthesiser which was custom made for him by Dr. Robert Moog.

Ma Dukes made the announcement herself on stage alongside music historian Timothy Anne Burnside at the annual DC loves Dilla show on July 17.

“J Dilla’s body of work is a testament of creativity and innovation, the very elements on which hip-hop was founded,” Burnside said.

J Dilla succumbed to Moschcowitz syndrome in 2006 after a lifelong fight and much of his unfinished work was released posthumously.

He attained cultural significance for his music’s organic rhythms and slew of sample sources and influences which inspired other Detroit hip-hop artists and retains its place as a prominent aesthetic in the global rap scene.

The National Museum of African History and Culture is currently under construction opposite the American History Museum in Washington DC.

Finn Houlihan


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