DC Will Always Love Dilla
part of the DC Hip-Hop Theatre Festival
July 12 – 2011 — Approaching the 9:30 Club for the DC Loves Dilla benefit concert, I can see the steady stream of people buying tickets and entering the venue, other small groups gather outside, hugs, handshakes, and the low rumble of conversation abound. This event is always a mixture of entertainment and family reunion for 25 – 40 year old age group in DC.
J. Dilla, born James Dewitt Yancey, was an influential hip hop producer who worked with Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu, Common and many others. Dilla went on to reach mainstream success in his own right as 1/3 of the rap trio Slum Village, who were known for such hit singles as “tainted” and “selfish”. Dilla passed away in February 2006 from complications of Lupus.
Walking into the 9:30 Club among the throng of fans gathering to remember the legacy of J. Dilla I arrived just in time to see one of my new favorite artists Maimouna Youssef enchant the crowd with her rendition of Common’s “time travelin’” from his fourth studio album “Like Water For Chocolate”, the track was both co-written and produced by Dilla, as were many of the other tracks on “Like Water For Chocolate”.
The thread that tied together each act was DJ 2 tone jones, who served as the core of the Dilla Universe, managing the high energy crowd and complimenting the backing band perfectly. DJ 2 tone jones weaved together music from Dilla projects including Fantastic (volumes 1 &2), his work with slum village and a wealth of tracks in between.
Performances by Flex Matthews, E. Majors, J. Sands, and Kent Starr of the Low Budget Family all served to further energize the crowd who danced well into the night. People were still coming in from the street to saturate the 9:30 Club’s dance floor at midnight, swaying to the vocals of Allison Gordon, and J. Hill among others, all the while stopping to hug, and chat with familiar faces they have not seen in some cases since last years DC loves Dilla convert.
Overall, the show was as big of a success as anyone could have hoped, drawing a more than impressive crowd despite the oppressive heat that lingered into the late night hours and other local events happening the same night that threatened to claim some of the crowd. If the crowd was lightened I couldn’t tell as the atmosphere was strong and so was the love, showing that DC will always love Dilla.
The DC Hip-Hop Theatre Festival continues thru July 16, 2011
Common speaks to DC Love Dilla