Like it was for so many others, Donuts was the first album I listened to over and over and over again. As a skinny sixteen-year-old who had just discovered file sharing, I savored the sweet density of those taut 31 tracks, reveling in the fun way they confused my brain. J Dilla passed in 2006, but the viability of his music has remained: in the latest demonstration of the producer's relevance, his Akai MIDI Production Center 3000 and custom Minimoog Voyager synth are headed to the Smithsonian, thanks to his mother, Maureen "Ma Dukes" Yancey.
At the beginning of the summer, Ma Dukes announced a new Dilla box set, and now she’s gone a step further, generously donating those two pieces to The Smithsonian’s new African American History Museum’s inaugural exhibit, “Musical Crossroads." In an emotional onstage exchange at the DC Loves Dilla Tribute Concert, a Smithsonian rep takes Ma Duke’s hand and thanks her, “for sharing your son’s legacy with us, and for trusting us to share it with the world.” The museum isn't set to open until 2016, but in two years I'm hauling out to DC to see those pieces of Dilla's history, alongside collections from Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Chuck Berry, and Lena Horne. In the meantime, revisit FADER's tribute to the legendary producer from the year he passed.