By JONATHAN GOMEZ
Hip-Hop has had many legendary artists die to soon and On February 10, 2006, Detroit native James Dewitt Yancey, aka J Dilla, was one of them. It has been nine years since Dilla died at age 33 due to complications with lupus, yet his legacy continues to thrive. On Sunday night at Brooklyn Bowl fans came out, despite single digit temperature, to celebrate his prolific career.
The event, now in its ninth year, is called Donuts Are Forever presented by Rare Form, and is tribute party that not only gives Dilla fans a chance to jam to the soulful sounds of the legendary producer, but also a fundraiser for the Donuts Are Forever Scholarship Fund. The fund, which was created by Rare Form in 2011, provides children from Good Shepherd Services with music education opportunities through the non-profit organizations Groundwork for Success program.
“The fact that it is a fundraiser gives Donuts Are Forever a more organic feel,” said Malikah A. Shabazz, 31, a Detroit native and long-time Dilla fan. “The only other Dilla events, which I know of, that do things to benefit the community are in Detroit.”
With a long list of notable DJ’s headlining DAF in years past fans already expect a good time and this year was no different. DJ’s Rich Medina, P.U.D.G.E, Tap 10 and host Jarobi (A Tribe Called Quest) rocked the crowd behind the mic and turn tables with an onslaught of Dilla beats throughout the night. The crowd was live as fans where dancing and throwing their hands up as each Dilla track spread through the venue.
“Donuts Are Forever isn’t a concert, it’s a huge jam session, which gives you a chance to listen to Dilla beats and try to figure out how he created the magic he did,” said Shabazz, while she stood right in front of the stage in her “Detroit VS Everybody” t-shirt. “Dilla represented music excellence and it makes me proud to know that sound that genius came from Detroit.
In its ninth year DAF9 gave fans more than great Dilla beats with contributions from BK Booth photo booth, DAF9 t-shirts, designed by Allan Cole and a raffle where fans could win an autographed copy of Questlove’s (The Roots) book Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove, or tickets to The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.
To further add to Sunday night’s festivities was the surprise appearance from MC Busta Rhymes, who had some heartfelt words for the crowd about his long-time friend.
J Dilla’s music is celebrated world-wide in the month of February with a slew of events that pay homage to the late producer and his music. However DAF is one of the longest running tributes and it continues to grow strong as they are reaching their ten year anniversary.
“Every Culture celebrates their most influential musicians, and we wanted to celebrate Dilla because of the love we had for his music,” said Tara Duvivier, aka DJ Tara one of the founders of Rare Form and Donuts Are Forever. “It’s exciting because from the first Donuts it has been very well received.”
While the Hip-Hop industry’s most celebrated artists usually being more mainstream DAF is a different kind of event that brings together a diverse crowd with an appreciation for soulful, energetic music.
“His Music is very unifying and it brings people together,” said Derreck Johnson, aka DeePhunk, another founding member of Rare Form and DAF. “Dilla left us before he hit his full stride, yet look at the greatness of his music.”
With Donuts Are Forever 9 over Rare Form is already look towards the tenth annual DAF and if they can count on one thing, it’s that the Dilla Faithful will be out in full force.