DC Loves Dilla: A Tribute

DC Loves Dilla: A Tribute

July 10th marked the 8th Annual Tribute & Fundraiser for the legendary producer, James Dewitt Yancey, better known to the hip-hop community as J. Dilla.
DC Loves Dilla has been a special event where thousands of fans and artist show their appreciation for the man who dedicated his life to music.

This year's event was hosted at the historic Howard Theatre, which has been reopened in 2012 after going through extensive renovations. After making our way inside and barely dodging the rain, I was able to finally see how great the theatre looked. I highly recommend coming here if you get the chance.




When lights lowered and the curtains opened, you could instantly feel the energy in the room do a 180. Everyone went from nonchalant to focused on what our host, Grap Luva, had in store for us. After a brief introduction the first act was up. He was a local rapper named Oddisee who gave an energetic performance to properly get the night started.


The show went on with performers such as Wes Felton, Uptown XO, Substantial, and Authentik rapping over classic J. Dilla beats. They kept the crowd moving the whole time. I consider myself an avid hip-hop fan but I was blown away by the female singers that took the stage. The artists Mushinah and Wayna did a fantastic job with their vocals and provided a nice change of pace.



It was now around 10:40 p.m. and time for the headliners. Our M.C. broke the news that one of the headliners, Black Thought of the Roots, would not be able to attend this year's tribute due to a previous engagement with the Jimmy Fallon show. This let out a roar of disappointment from the crowd. He promised that he found someone to make up for the loss, I'm happy to say that he came through on that promise.

After a short song by the house band, the surprise guest was all set up. The custom MacBook with "MICK" lasered into it let me know who it was instantly. New York's own, DJ Mick Boogie. He mixed familiar songs from artist such as A Tribe Called Quest, Common, and The Pharcyde. Mick actually managed to turn the Howard Theatre into a night club during his set.

The night kept moving with Violinist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson taking the stage. The two mental notes that I remember from his performance are that
1) My elementary school music teacher would never let me play the violin that way.
2) There's no way I can explain his performance with words.




After Miguel's terrific performance, our host Grap Luva hits the stage again to announce "something for the ladies." It was now time for the singer Bilal, to take everyone's girlfriend. After a few songs and what seemed to be a 15-minute jazz impromptu, it was time for the main act.



The moment everyone was waiting for was finally here. It was 11:37 p.m. and after 3 hours of standing, I wasn't completely sure if people would still have the energy to finish the night out strong. I was proven wrong once De La Soul took to the stage. They were greeted with the cheers that every artist works so hard to attain.

De La Soul


They brought the energy everyone needed and ended the show with Plug One, a member of the group, entering the crowd and performing the classic song "Stakes is High".


After a long night, I was surprised to leave the Howard Theatre with more energy than I came with. You could tell by the diverse ages, races, and style of the people leaving the venue that this concert transcended hip hop. Whether you call him James, Jay Dee, or Dilla this concert was truly a tribute.

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

Learn More