J Dilla's mother is giving away two of his most cherished instruments to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Maureen "Ma Dukes" Yancey has agreed to donate Dilla's custom-built Minimoog Voyager synth and his Akai MIDI Production Center 3000 to the museum's collection, as part of the museum’s "Musical Crossroads" exhibition that opens in 2016.
Dilla's gear will sit alongside collections from Chuck D, George Clinton, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, establishing him as one of the true pioneers of African-American music. The producer and rapper died of a cardiac arrest aged 32, after battling a rare blood disease called lupus for three years.
In a statement, Dilla's mother said: "I feel it’s necessary to raise the level of art appreciation in the hip-hop sector and honour my son James Dewitt Yancey, one of the most influential individuals in the history of hip-hop".
The announcement was made during the yearly DC Loves Dilla event, an annual benefit concert held since 2006 to raise money and awareness for lupus. During the concert Dilla's mother was thanked by the museum for "sharing her son's legacy and trusting us to share it with the world".