The family of late music producer James “J Dilla” Yancey is extremely pleased to announce the appointment of West Coast probate attorney Alex Borden as administrator of Yancey’s estate, and also to announce the establishment of the official J Dilla Foundation. The developments mark a new chapter in preserving and enhancing the legacy of the legendary artist and secure a means of future prosperity for his mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, daughters Ja-Mya Yancey and Ty-Monae Whitlow, and brother, John “Illa J” Yancey.
“I’m so excited because it’s like one big organization,” says Maureen Yancey, who has worked tirelessly to ensure that the well-being of her family remains a priority for all involved and her son’s accomplishments are held in a positive and productive light. “We’ve got cutting-edge people all over the country waiting to work and be a part of it. Everybody’s on one accord it seems like the universe is working with us.”
Borden came onboard last April following Arthur Erk’s tenure as Executor and he and his team and have been working closely with the Yancey family in developing creative opportunities for J Dilla’s vast catalog of music. Says Yancey: “It’s awesome to not only have things back on the right track, but to have people who are really in your corner. I’m just blown away by the past few years, and working doubly hard to get things corrected, it drives you. It’s wonderful.”
The Estate will serve as the channel through which the Yancey family will receive compensation for use of the J Dilla/Jay Dee name, merchandise, and recordings; the goal of which is to create a successful, joyous, and profitable enterprise to be controlled by the family once the probate process is complete. All business dealings with the music of James Yancey, Pay Jay Productions, Inc. and the Estate of James Yancey are to be directed to the Estate through the newly launched official J Dilla website www.j-dilla.com. The Estate will also manage contracts, copyrights, and other matters relating to the Yancey name and/or Pay Jay Productions, Inc., and welcomes ideas, requests, and licensing opportunities for evaluation and review with the family.
“We’re very happy about it,” says Yancey in regards to her family’s relationship to the new administration. “The entire family knows how Alex’s team works and how they’ve pulled together and stood up for us even before this time, and it’s just been excellent. The communication is wonderful. It’s like family…we’re just one big family.”
In a separate but complementary role to the Estate, the newly established J Dilla Foundation has filed for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit charitable institution to help fund the development of music in the inner city and provide scholarships to students enrolled at schools with progressive music curricula. Four initiatives will be launched each year and three cities chosen to enhance local music programs, with scholarships awarded to one or more students at the beginning of the fall semester. Target cities for 2010 are Detroit, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. The Foundation will hold fundraisers in each city with each effort anticipated to bring approximately in $10,000+ of donations.
“One of the things Dilla wanted me to do with his legacy was to use it to help others, people with illness, and kids who were musically gifted but had little hope due to poverty,” says Yancey, founder and chair of the Foundation. “The Foundation is to keep Dilla’s dream alive to help youth—those who aspire to make good music—and develop their time, talent, and nurture their skill. We also want to be there financially for those who are talented but don’t have the money or access to the networks they need to help them grow.”
By the time of his death in February of 2006 from complications due to Lupus, Yancey was revered by the music world for his contributions to hip-hop and R&B, emerging from the mid-1990s underground hip-hop scene in Detroit, Michigan to become one of the industry’s most influential artists. “Every year, Dilla and his dream get bigger and bigger,” says Yancey. “Every time I go to a different city and visit with his fans, the dream just grows. It’s something that I can’t even describe, and it’s not going to die.”
Estate of J Dilla/James Yancey
J Dilla Foundation