EXCLUSIVE: Ma Dukes Talks Son J. Dilla, Twitter Beefs And The Zulu Nation


(AllHipHop News Special) The history books say James Dewitt Yancey died on February 10th, 2006, but J. Dilla is very much a topic of discussion in Hip-Hop circles and beyond.

Maureen Yancey, the mother of the production demigod, has made sure her brilliant son’s legacy lives.

From running the J. Dilla Foundation to curating posthumous albums, she makes a conscious effort to preserve her son’s indelible name.

So, like any concerned mother, the woman known affectionately in Hip-Hop as Ma Dukes, contacted AllHipHop.com to voice her opinion on issues brought up in our news coverage on friend and collaborator of J. Dilla’s, DJ House Shoe’s disparaging comments about the Zulu Nation.

[ALSO READ: 9th Wonder Gets In Twitter Fight With J. Dilla Affilliate, House Shoes]

On House Shoes’ “I Never Gave A F**k About That Zulu Sh*t” Comments

Once A Tribe Called quest frontman, Q-Tip was introduced to Dilla in 1995, those two and fellow Tribe member Ali Shaheed Muhammed formed the production collective The Ummah.

Q-Tip, whom is naming his upcoming album The Last Zulu, has promoted The Zulu Nation since his A Tribe Called Quest days.

Due to her son’s high regard for Q-Tip and the Zulu Nation, Ma Dukes found House Shoe’s comments to be a bit disheartening:

“With him being so close to Tip and them doing so much work together, that’s what Uhma meant, ‘brothers united.’ So how can you question a brotherhood of something. Somtehing that is moving something forward for our race. I don’t agree with any negative [comments on The Zulu Nation]. I don’t think he should have imposed his feelings or comments upon the world on a public forum. It made me very uncomfortable after us [settling our disagreement].”

The mother of the Donuts producer admitted that if she was in 9th Wonder’s position in the argument with House Shoes during the disagreement with House Shoes it may have had a different outcome:

“I think it was very well handled on the other end (9th Wonder). I don’t know if I would have been as calm. I might have said some things that were distasteful. [Laughs] My pastor is definitely on Facebook. [Laughs].”

On Previous Falling Out With House Shoes

In 2012, disputes between Ma Dukes and House Shoes arose over a variety of reasons, all centering around the posthumous Dilla album The Rebirth of Detroit.

Shoes has claimed in interviews that he was informed that Ma Dukes accused him of hoarding Dilla’s unheard beats until she paid him accordingly.

Ma Dukes says the problem stems from Shoe’s disrespect towards the project which paired a collection of new artists with 25 unheard Dilla beats:

“The problem we had was with the Rebirth project. He was saying uncomfortable things to the artists apart of the project who were doing it for the love.”

Cooler heads eventually prevailed and while in Baltimore, Ma Dukes and House Shoes hashed out their differences.

[ALSO READ: Philly Loves J Dilla: Questlove Spins J Dilla Classics and Reworked Beats]

On Detroit’s Hip Hop Ambassador and The State Of its Music:

In a 2012 interview with HipHopDX, House Shoes said he deserved the title of “Detroit Hip Hop Ambassador” because he feels no one else “has been as responsible or cared as much about presenting the greatest artists [of Detroit ” to the world.

Ma Dukes took issue with our article describing him as such:

“The article represents Shoes as the ambassador of the city. But he’s been gone for years now. There are other DJ’s that are really representing Detroit and don’t speak negatively about Detroit out in public forums. He’s a Californian now. [Laughs] So he should not be labeled Detroit’s ambassador. He did help Dilla and was breaking records down at Saint Andrews but he was not the only DJ representing Dilla and Slum Village and breaking records for them.”

On The Amount of Unheard J. Dilla Songs Left

House Shoes has stated in interviews that there are not much new Dilla beats that have not circulated online.

Not only does Ma Dukes refute this, she claims there is enough material from Dilla to last decades:

“[Laughs] I can’t even name all of them. There’s a reason it is titled The Lost Scrolls. Because there is boundless amounts of never heard before, never touched tracks. Even in completion to be used for so many different formats of music. From Hip Hop to Jazz. The surprising part of going through all the music is finding so many that he actually rapped himself the entire length of the track that are never heard.”

Ma Dukes and the J. Dilla Foundation are also helping Hip Hop & Visual Art space, 5e Gallery raise money to keep their building.

5e Gallery hosted this year as well as last year’s annual Dilla Day and Ms. Yancey has been collaborating with 5e Gallery member Kirby Golver to come up with creative fundraising tactics. One, which is not finalized, is to host an art show/concert for kids and adults of Detroit to see new formats of art with prices no more than regular show prices, according to Ma Dukes.

Regarding the immutable legacy of Jay Dee, a collection of unheard Dilla beats will be released later this year on the album The Lost Souls Vol. 1. The man Ma Dukes calls her “other son,” Frank Nitty of famed Detroit duo Frank-N-Dank will help her put together The Lost Scrolls Vol 1 in a manner Dilla would have intended, she maintains.

The good news keeps rolling in as Dilla’s shelved solo album from his time at MCA Records will finally be released in its original capacity after a bootleg version of the album surfaced entitled Pay Jay.

[ALSO CHECK OUT: J Dilla “Dewitt To Do It” [Unreleased]]

Check out the trailer for Fuse.tv‘s “Crate Diggers” webisode dedicated to the legacy of J. Dilla premiering March 20th: