Phife Dawg, N’dea Davenport talk ‘D.C. Loves Dilla’


The 2014 “D.C. Loves Dilla” tribute and fundraiser kicks off today and this year’s show features some remarkable talent. Artists like De La Soul, Pharoah Monche, Bahamadia and N’Dea Davenport are among those taking the stage to honor J. Dilla, the legendary producer out of Detroit who has become one of hip-hop’s most renowned and acclaimed figures. Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest has been one of Dilla’s staunchest fans ever since they worked together in the mid-90s and he spoke to rolling out about why it’s important to celebrate his legacy.

“It’s a good thing because while he was here, he was slept on, but I don’t understand why,” Phife explained. “But I’m just happy people are getting the chance to understand his music and what he was about. And to let people know that the was an even better person.”

Davenport recalled how she and Dilla initially met over a decade and a half ago.

“At the time that I met him, we were at relatively early stages in our careers,” says Davenport. “We were both affiliated with the label Delicious Vinyl … and he was working a lot with my buddies in The Pharcyde.

“At the time, I don’t think the world was as familiar with his talent and his ability — they hadn’t embraced him yet, he was a very shy and understated artist at the time. When I started to develop my project, it was great to have this unknown talent with this ability to create beats. He had a completely different take and went in different directions. Once people started hearing the talent, he just blew up!”

Phife feels that part of why Dilla was so unknown initially was due to American hip-hop fans unwillingness to dig for information on who produced their favorite tracks.

“In the United States, you’ve got to spoon-feed people on certain things,” he says. “If they don’t see the person, they don’t check it out.”

“It’s important for people to smell their flowers while they’re still here, and I think not enough people really understand what was going on when he first came on the scene,” Phife continues. “So I’m just trying to keep his name alive as much as possible.”

And Davenport shares in that spirit. She’s developed a friendship with “Ma Dukes” Yancey and she’s excited to be a part of the ongoing celebration of this gifted artists’ legacy.

“It’s just great to have him celebrated by so many people,” Davenport says. “It was great to know him and collaborate with him.”

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