J Dilla equipment to be donated to Smithsonian museum

Equipment includes Dilla's custom-made Minamoog Voyager synthesiser

The family of J Dilla are to donate equipment from the late hip-hop producer’s collection to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The announcement was made on Thursday (July 17) during the annual “DC Loves Dilla” tribute concert at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC and later confirmed on the Smithsonian’s website. Scroll down to view the on-stage pronouncement.

Among the artefacts to be donated will include Dilla’s custom-made Minamoog Voyager synthesizer and rare Akai MIDI Production Centre 3000 Limited Edition.


“J Dilla’s body of work is a testament to creativity and innovation, the very elements on which hip-hop was founded,” said music historian Timothy Anne Burnside, who worked with Yancey’s mother to secure the collection. “He was fearlessly dedicated to music, following in the footsteps of many musical greats; as a child he first danced to James Brown, and like Duke Ellington, he was uncannily versatile. It is in the company of the greats that he belongs.”

“I feel it’s necessary to raise the level of art appreciation in the hip-hop sector and honour my son James Dewitt Yancey, one of the most influential individuals in the history of hip-hop,” added Maureen Yancey.

The items will become part of the museum’s music and performing arts collection. The exhibition represents African American artistic and cultural expression through music, dance, theatre, radio, film, television and other forms of entertainment. Other musicians featured include Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Chuck D.

James Yancey died in 2006 of the blood disease thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura at the age of 32. He is widely considered to be one of the most influential hip-hop producers of all time having worked with artists such as Common, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and The Pharcyde.