12 Questions with Akomplice & Ma Dukes of the J Dilla Foundation
A collaborative project that encompasses the legacy and spirit of late artist, J Dilla and talents of Brooklyn emcee, Joey Bada$$ releases on November 21st with Akomplice Clothing. 100 % of the profits from this capsule collection will be donated to provide instruments and music lessons to children who would otherwise be without access via the J Dilla Foundation. The collection includes, a t-shirt and crew neck paying homage to the producer and an exclusive 45 record featuring an unreleased Dilla beat dubbed “Two Lips” on Side A and an unreleased Joey Bada$$ track on Side B.
The collection will be available in 29 countries and select Akomplice retailers starting November 21st. The complete collection will also be available online.
1 — Can you tell us a little more about how this partnership between the foundation and Akomplice came about? Who approached who?
We’ve been working with The Dilla Foundation for quite some time now. We were involved with the most recent “Dilla Day” in Detroit which is a celebration of Dilla’s legacy that is put together by The J Dilla Foundation. We spoke to The Dilla Foundation numerous times, bouncing ideas back and forth until the complete idea for this project was formed. They had reached out to us initially about being involved with Dilla Day and that’s how it all began about a year ago.
2 — Its rare that a collaboration gives away 100 percent of the profits to fund a cause, you mentioned Detroit and Brooklyn being recipients of the proceeds, will this be to select individuals or groups? Can you tell us more about this?
We have decided to donate 100% of the profits towards impoverished youth in Brooklyn and Detroit (Dilla and Joey’s hometowns). The money will go towards purchasing instruments as well as music lessons for kids that are interested in making music that might not be able to afford these types of things otherwise. And yes doing 100% of profits almost never happens, but I have philosophy that instead of doing magazine ads I can do things like this and better the world.
3 — Including a 45 record as part of the collection is a great idea, how did that happen?
It was really just an idea that we thought would be perfect for the J Dilla collection. With the unreleased Dilla Instrumental and the Joey Bada$$ vocals, it didn’t seem right to put the song(s) on anything other than wax. The album makes the whole project more collectible. I am a record collector as well. So I always just think what would I love and that’s what we try to make then. The concept was to give a dope new artist that wasn’t in the game to work with Dilla the chance to and in turn help expose the youth to Dilla and the magic he makes.
4 — Tell us about the album artwork / the artist behind it and how it ties into this collection.
We’ve always loved Dilla here at Akomplice. Our Co-Founder/Co-Owner Mike Akomplice got first dibs at taking a stab at the artwork and put together something that we will all be able to cherish for years to come as an installment of Dilla’s legacy. The clouds represent Dilla watching over us and being in heaven. Ma Dukes said the artwork for the album was one of her most favorite pieces of art of Dilla ever, that was such a honor to hear.
5 — What is Joey Bada$$’s tie to the J Dilla Foundation, how did he become part of this project?
We see Joey making moves with an integrity that we respect and we thought he had the perfect sound and vibe to pair with Dilla. Soin a sense it was a bit greedy wanting to hear the two pairedm haham This is his first time working with Akomplice and The Dilla Foundation, he really is a good person and has great talent. Also it was awesome because J Dilla is his favorite producer of all time so he was hyped just like The J Dilla Foundation and us. So the project was very exciting having everyone so hype.
6 — Will Joey be interacting with the recipients from this project?
Joey will be interacting with the recipients from this project. He will be personally giving instruments and music lesson vouchers to the kids who are chosen to receive the donations.
7 — The collection will be available in 29 countries in addition to your online store, what are some of those locations?
A few of the countries that we will be selling the collaboration in are: Germany, England, Netherlands, Sweden, Chile, Colombia, Canada, Germany, Finland, Taiwan, Japan and Russia. Places like Fred Segal Conveyor, Reed Space, Shoe Gallery, Leaders 1354, True and Lafayette retail Akomplice so if they picked the collab up, they will have it.
8 — Is this the beginning of future collaborations between Akomplice and the J Dilla foundation?
It’s been a really great process and we have already talked about future projects but we gotta keep it secret.
9 — When choosing to work on projects such as this one or the Nature Conservancy, what influences those decisions?
It usually always starts with making something dope and then sometimes like with the Nature Conservancy we were like we should make these animal shirts protect these animals. So its like taking things even further to make them even fresher.
10 — How does music influence Akomplice? What’s on your playlist?
At the Akomplice offices around the world, music is always playing. Whether it’s an employee sharing something new for the office to hear or everybody working with their headphones on, we all love music. From hip hop to reggae to rock n’ roll and back, we love it all. I have a record collection full of mostly 90’s and early 2000’s hip hop from Dilla to Wu-Tang and then tons of 60’s soul like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. Love music. Multiple of our staff are music artist that have tracks with people like Danny Brown and Blu.
Ma Dukes, J Dilla’s Mom, answered the following on the J Dilla foundation.
11. Can we discuss the J Dilla Foundation a little more and some of the programs or individuals they have helped fund up until now.
First I’d like to say,
The foundation has no specific criteria first off as to receiving support other than the need for resources for the encouragement and nurturing of youth through the arts.
The 5E gallery and it’s Urban Strings Youth Orchestra is very dear to us and we have been blessed to assist them in their endeavors and once again through proceeds they will benefit. They have been gracious and supportive since the foundations inception and the magnitude of their skills is unsurpassed.
The black Girls Rock has received funding and youth organizations are supported in the public school sector . There have been workshops given through the foundation and supported by local musicians.
Dilla youth day is our biggest roundup annually and these workshops include instruction to youth and families as open forum and hands on activities such as instrumental, lyrical, voice, computer skills as well as DJ workshops and dance art.
12. What does 2014 mean for the foundation?
One initiative that will be added in 2014 will be social graces or etiquette. There is a time where even the gifted should know how to be well received by any environment. The schools that will be receiving the major part of funding will be 5 E Gallery again, the Jalen Rose Academy, as well as the DSA. That is the Detroit School for the Arts. The artist Aaliyah studied there.
Dilla is global and this the beginning of a new and powerful collaboration and crusade for the betterment of mankind. It is true that music is the universal language and the world will participate in this coming Dilla season with goodwill and hope for a bright future for nurturing the hidden talents of our youths.
The initiatives will include the name of Dilla’s father that passed away a year and a half ago. He was instrumental in grooming Dilla as well as all the Yancey’s with musical talents and was a veteran musician that played upright bass for over 25yrs nationwide.
Model: Joey Bada$$
Photographer: Blake Peterson