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For eight years, the annual DC Loves Dilla concert has paid homage to revered hip-hop producer James “J Dilla” Yancey, who died in 2006 of a rare blood disease. The concert usually ropes in locals and former Dilla collaborators alike: For last year’s edition at Fillmore Silver Spring, alt-jazz pianist Robert Glasper improvised an impressive solo; Detroit rapper Guilty Simpson spit atop Dilla’s legendary drums; and W. Ellington Felton, Maimouna Youssef, and ‘Toine from DTMD topped the local performances.

But the 2013 DC Loves Dilla bested last year’s. At a crowded Howard Theatre last night, De La Soul proved they’re still elite, and violinist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson—who composed 2009’s incredible Suite For Ma Dukes—wowed the fans with lively string work performed alongside Jon Laine‘s incessant percussion.

Local natives Oddisee, X.O., MuhsinahSubstantial, and Awthentik mixed their own verses with beloved J Dilla tracks; Laine’s band, which included guitarist Nila Kay, bassist Dennis Turner, and producer SlimKat, put nice spins on the quirky “Wild” and the aggressive “Make ‘Em NV.”

Did you miss last night’s show? Bummer. Good thing I took some video of the show. Watch the clips below.


Uptown X.O.


W. Ellington Felton