J Dilla Children's Book Tells Late Producer's 'Life Story' - Rolling Stone
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J Dilla Children’s Book Tells Late Producer’s ‘Life Story’

‘The Life Story of James Dewitt Yancey’ features interactive audio component narrated by Dilla’s mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey-Smith

Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, mother of late hip-hop producer/experimental beatmaker J Dilla, will chronicle her son’s early musical development in the upcoming children’s biography The Life Story of James Dewitt Yancey. The title, out November 22nd, is available as a standard printed version and an audio version featuring the book and an audio USB cassette featuring narration by Ma Dukes.

The Life Story, available now for pre-order, also features page-by-page illustrations by artist Tokio Aoyama. A portion of all proceeds will be donated to the James Dewitt Yancey Foundation, which aims to “[enhance and develop] urban music programs in inner-cities academia.”

“I want to tell you how very happy I am about the first series of my children’s book titled The Life Story of J Dilla,” Ma Dukes said in a statement. “It’s been an amazing quest for the Foundation as we gear up to support the education of youth by inspiring them to pick up an instrument and enhance their creativity and learn to appreciate the arts. This book can be enjoyed by the very young, as an audio is also available. It’s an example of striving to be all you can be and working hard to achieve ones goals in life.”

Ma Dukes announced the project Tuesday on New York hip-hop radio station Hot 97. 

“The book is to bridge the gap to explain to young people not only who [J Dilla] was … but to introduce him so that they’ll be familiar with his music that he put out,” she said of The Life Story. “He wasn’t always recognized for music he put out that either went gold or platinum.”

In the interview with host Peter Rosenberg, she also discussed her son’s legacy, his battle with lupus, his passion for beat-making and the foundation’s plans to continue releasing limited-edition music.

Dilla’s prized MPC, which he used to create innovative sounds used on iconic albums like Donuts, is now on display at the Smithsonian’s recently opened National Museum of African-American History

In This Article: J Dilla


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