J Dilla hip-hop collection donated to Museum of African American History

A collection of artefacts from the award-winning hip-hop artist J Dilla has been donated to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

J Dilla smithsonian museum
J Dilla died aged just 32, but left behind an astonishing musical legacy

J Dilla, real name James Dewitt Yancey, was one of the most influential hip-hop artists, having works with many of the genre's biggest names. He died in 2006 aged just 32, leaving fans mourning his astonishing 15-album career.

"J Dilla's body of work is a testament to creativity and innovation, the very elements on which hip-hop was founded," said Timothy Anne Burnside, a popular-music historian for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The collection includes Dilla's custom-made Minamoog Voyager synthesizer, which he used to great some of his most famous beats.

Also featuring is the Akai MIDI Production Centre 3000 Limited Edition, one of only 2,00 units ever produced, which was used as a drum machine.

As the museum states, "he is often heralded as the first to use off-beat and purposefully imperfect beats in his music. Artists today, such as Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar, draw on that style; some even sample Dilla's original songs to re-create his sound."

"Everyone who pays attention to hip-hop has heard J Dilla's work whether they realize it or not," Burnside added.

"In the very demanding world of hip-hop producers, he was one of the busiest and most sought-after. He had a way of making his signature sound and creating something unique for the people he collaborated with. He could create a beat for anyone and make it sound like theirs and theirs alone."

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