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How J. Dilla’s Legacy Ended Up In The Smithsonian

Ma Dukes on how Dilla's impact and work will carry on.

Even with his tragic and untimely passing in 2006 from lupus, J Dilla has an influence that lives on. It’s evident in artists that he’s impacted, like Kanye West — who said, “I have to work on behalf of J Dilla” — as well as in song’s like Common’s recent “Rewind That,” which served as a tribute to his late friend.

And soon, his life and work will be cherished not just in fans’ hearts and ears, but in the Smithsonian, where his legacy will be included in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, set to open next year.

“I’ve been approached by a lot of institutions, but the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., is very accessible to all,” the Detroit native’s mother, Maureen Yancey (known lovingly among fans as Ma Dukes), told the Huffington Post.

“Timothy Burnside, a curator, contacted me about five years ago, and came to my house to visit,” she explained. “She saw some of the equipment, and I took her to the studio. She knew I wasn’t ready so soon after my son’s death, but we stayed in touch over the years. Finally, when I was ready, we started the process.”

Now, the museum will display his Akai MIDI Production Center 3000 Limited Edition (MPC) and a custom-made Minamoog Voyager synthesizer, according to the Huffington Post.

“I want young people to understand that no matter where you come from, you should always pursue your dreams.”