Seminal hip-hop producer J Dilla is getting his own children’s book thanks to his mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey. The children’s biography, The Life Story of James Dewitt Yancey, will hit shelves on November 22. It also features illustrations courtesy of Japanese psych pop artist, Tokio Aoyama.
The book will focus on J Dilla’s childhood years prior to him becoming a reputed name in the local Detroit hip hop scene in the mid-90s. According to the Dilla Merch official website, The Life Story of James Dewitt Yancey is “inspired by the stories from his mother, family and siblings”. The book also features an interactive audio component narrated by Ma Dukes.
Earlier this morning, Ma Dukes made a guest appearance on Peter Rosenberg’s radio show Hot 97, where she spoke about the book, her son’s legacy and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where Ma Dukes announced she would donate her son’s legendary Moog synthesizer and MPC beat machine. You can watch this interview below.
J Dilla [born James Dewitt Yancey] was born in 1974 and grew up on the East Side of Detroit. Dilla became interested in music at an early age due to the influence of his parents; his mother was a keen singer and his father, Beverly, was a professional doo wop singer, as well as an experienced piano and bass player.
Dilla rose to prominence in the mid-90s as one-third of the critically acclaimed hip hop trio, Slum Village. He released his solo debut record Welcome 2 Detroit in 2001. He passed away on February 10, 2006 as a result of cardiac arrest. He is best remembered for his trailblazing production abilities and his record, Donuts which was released three days before his untimely death is still considered one of the best records of that decade.