Ma Dukes & Okayplayer talk on J Dill’a legacy

Ma Dukes Live on Stage

An excerpt from the interview with OkayPlayer

With the 15th anniversary of his untimely death approaching, we spoke with J Dilla’s mother, Maureen Yancey, better known to Dilla fans and friends as the beloved “Ma Dukes.”

“I couldn’t even imagine how he would feel because every day since he was two, he was bumping music. And that’s what he lived for,” she said. “So, I was like, ‘In order to keep him from keeping his mind on this pain and everything that’s going on inside of him, I got to keep him busy. And music is the only thing that he’s going to do.’”

Losing Dilla is something Ma Dukes has mourned for years, something she didn’t realize until recently.

“I was writing the Dilla Letter [for Motor City in 2017] And I broke down trying to read it to myself before I sent it. I couldn’t get through a paragraph. It just hurt so bad,” she said. “But through the events and the people’s love and outreach and the good that it’s doing for children, that is the only reason that I’m still here, I’m sure.”

Read The Full Interview

In this special segment of Unpacked, we sat down to speak with Ma Dukes, the mother of Jay Dee (aka J Dilla). She tells us stories about Jay Dee DJing at two years old, and hearing his original drum sounds for the first time.

In Unpacked, influential artists explore the methods, minutiae, and magic behind their most definitive sounds.