Original artwork of the Man of Honor by Xavier Payne (IG: @xpayneart)

Original artwork of the Man of Honor by Xavier Payne (IG: @xpayneart). Photo courtesy of @NYLovesDilla.

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It was a special night tonight in NYC. Truly a night that people will tell their kids about, as host Jarobi of A Tribe Called Quest stated. At approximately 8:08 PM EST at Webster Hall, New York City paid tribute to one of Hip-Hop’s greatest heroes, James Dewitt Yancey, or better known as J Dilla. The producer and emcee’s mother, the ever so hard working Ma Dukes, co-hosted with Jarobi to an almost packed house. It was a rare opportunity for a crowd to show up not just for a stellar lineup (Talib Kweli, Phony Ppl, Soul Khan, YC The Cynic, Tanya Morgan, 88 Keys & Nemo Achida, AYOinmotion), but also to celebrate the music given to us by such a talented individual like J Dilla.

When Jarobi wasn’t trying to crash Instagram a la Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscar’s, he helped keep the show moving with personal stories about J Dilla and a balance of energy and decorum to keep the Sunday night moving along. Ma Dukes took the stage for a moment to thank everyone who made it out as well as explain the work the J Dilla Foundation was doing in each city the tour came to. In NYC, they decided to work with the Lower East Side Girls Club to promote programs that would help teach girls production skills.


The sets by each performing artist was kept short and sweet, starting with the AYOinmotion band doing their own rendition of Jay Z’s “PSA” all the way through Phony Ppl’s groovy hits. Soul Khan surprised a few ladies in the house by singing the hook on one of his tracks after some quick a capella bars. But the moment that made Webster Hall lose it was when headliner Talib Kweli brought out Pharoahe Monch and Keith Murray to show their love for J Dilla on stage. And we thought when Talib performed “Lightworks” that it couldn’t have gotten wilder in there.

We’d have to say that the first annual #NYLovesDilla show was a huge success. This thing really is bigger than Hip-Hop. J Dilla knew that. We know that. Do you?

Special thanks to the Elixir Media Group, the J Dilla Foundation, and Ma Dukes.

Bryan Hahn (@notupstate)