J Dilla’s Mother Speaks

Mrs. Maureen Yancey more widely known as “Ma Dukes” is not one to mess with. Since Jay Dee’s passing in 2006 she has been the voice of the legendary brand of J Dilla, but more importantly the link to her son’s future in our ears. Having a voice that not only speaks the mind of […]

Mrs. Maureen Yancey more widely known as “Ma Dukes” is not

one to mess with. Since Jay Dee’s passing in 2006 she has been the voice of the

legendary brand of J Dilla, but more importantly the link to her son’s future

in our ears. Having a voice that not only speaks the mind of a woman battling

the same disease that took her son’s life but also even of Dilla himself makes

her word the word in all things James

“J Dilla (Jay Dee)” Yancey.  Although Charles Hamilton maintains he sought to contribute money from his album sales to help Ma Dukes, the fires

stay heated around the recent controversy. Mrs. Yancey took time out to speak with

AllHipHop.com to get both her wanted and needed opinion out on all things

surrounding Charles Hamilton and her son.

AllHipHop.com: What

would you say your position is regarding any artist using your son’s name and

attaching it to themselves musically?

Ma Dukes: You know what, I have been very liberal. As far as

I’m concerned about it there are those who have always done music for him. And

you know I realize that we’re gonna have those that take music and rape the

spirit of the music and do things that they shouldn’t do. I mean nobody’s above

that, they do it to even the biggest people. But to do it and make it look like

you have permission to do this and that and you’re in it with the family and

that it’s all good. I was like, “What in the hell is going on?” I mean I’m

pretty liberal and Dilla was always relaxed about the way he did his business.

You know there were those who couldn’t afford to pay Dilla and those who needed

a helping hand and couldn’t afford the top scale for tracks and he adjusted

himself to help any and everybody but he did care about what a person was like

– their character. He did feel he had to respect you as an individual and if he

had no respect for you then that was just out of the question. I don’t think

that’s being unfair, I know there are people out there that want to make it by

any means, but when you do, don’t step out wrong. You first step out right, and

then you try to make your resources build upon themselves. You don’t step out


AllHipHop.com: Had

you ever heard Charles Hamilton’s name as a

rising artist?

Ma Dukes: Not ever in my life! The only Hamilton I’ve ever

heard of was on the bill (laughs). When I first heard about this I was really jogging

my brain because I know I meet a lot of people but usually I lock in a name

pretty good and whenever somebody meets me and they do any type of work for his

[Dilla’s] production or different types of merchandising I always lock them in.

I’m very free to give my number because I’ll talk to anybody and I always

answer and if I can’t get you – you know if I’m having a bad medical week or

something I’ll always get back to you or text to let you know that as soon as

things get right ill get back. And I do this because that’s what I’m here for.

It doesn’t bother me, I freely give my information out and talk to anybody in

any realm that they’re involved in. So that person [Charles Hamilton] would’ve

been able to call me straight forward if they knew me, without a doubt. So that

was the first thing I’m like, “Wow! How come he didn’t call Ma Dukes?” because

then he said he knew Illa J and it was not an hour later that Illa J called me

to ask me who he was. I was like, “I don’t know who he is (laughs)” and he was

like, “Well I’ve never met him,” and things like that. I was getting calls all

over the place, Pete Rock called me like early yesterday and asked me, “Ma

whats going on this guy is putting your business in the streets, who is he?” I

was like, “Well I haven’t a clue!” I don’t know why he would do it, there’s a

lot of things that have been done but he’s the first, I’ve got to give him

kudos (laughs) he’s the first to step up and do that out the box so you know I

still don’t know what to think.

AllHipHop.com: Charles

made the statement, “quite honestly my relationship with the Yanceys and the

Holten family and their relationship with the Moore family and the Hamilton

family really is nobody’s business number one.” Do the Holten or Moore family

ring a bell?

Ma Dukes: Don’t know. Wait, you know what I know Dilla knew

a Charles Moore when he went to high school, but that was it (laughs). He was a

nice person, no pun intended, (laughs) and he’s a vocalist not a producer and

matter of fact he did a track on Daddy’s

Little Girl

, he did the Sam Cooke song. 

But he’s not really doing anything as far as I know and I’m not sure if

he’s still in Michigan or New York or somewhere. But don’t know any Holten’s,

don’t know them. So yeah, I’m at a loss. You know I couldn’t forget a whole

family, maybe one individual but not a whole family, my god (laughs).

AllHipHop.com: Let me

throw another quote at you from Charles, “Now if I did a séance and Dilla’s walking around

in my house –”

Ma Dukes: Oh my goodness!

AllHipHop.com: “…you

can’t take away that paranormal aspect of it and I’m not gonna say whether I

did that or not because then I ‘d be crazy.”

Ma Dukes: He is crazy. Quote me! Totally insane, oh my god

he’s insane. I feel for him if he believes things like this. You know we all

have our experiences (out of body or in our dreams) and we believe them because

of how vividly it might have happened but to conjure up a whole scenario with

relatives and friends, (laughs) that’s a really big one. He had to of been

asleep for a few days to get that together. And as far as Dilla walking around

in the house, the only house that he walks around in would be mine cause it’s

like a museum so I can really think that he’s here and you smell the nag champa

burning because he burned that every day, everything in his house smelled like

that (laughs). So yes, he’s very much alive here because we keep it that way

and we rejoice in his music and listen to it. You know, it’s not uncomfortable

for anybody in the house to have it playing because he was just a swell son and

brother, he was just a great person and a good Dad might I add. He’s alive here

but I don’t know about anywhere else (laughs) and if he did it’d probably be to

go see his kids first before anywhere else (laughs). When House Shoes told me

that my mouth dropped, I was like, “Wow!” And I didn’t have anything to say,

and when I have a loss for words there’s really something up because usually I

can go forever (laughs). He is some character, if he is creative in his music

he ought to be able to do something good without stepping on other people’s

toes. If he’s even half as creative in his process of doing his music then he’s

got a good product and other than that he should be writing stories. Yes, he

should be doing books, he really should.

AllHipHop.com: What

did you think about the physical threats directed to Charles Hamilton?

Ma Dukes: Oh my God! I felt that way so what can I say? I

was like, “If I can get my hands around his neck!” Like I said though, don’t bring

the ghetto out (of me). I don’t like that part, but you know I was born and raised in

Detroit, lower east side and in the ghetto so it’s not prim and proper. And

hey, I got friends on every walk of life so nothing would faze me but I

wouldn’t want to go into that kind of thought process cause when people do

things like that it kind of takes you out of your norm and you kind of think

about, “Well, you know what should I really do?” That’s not very good, the

position he put himself in. It was like a thoughtless process. You’re just

going to go step out into a black hole, and that’s literally what he did from

what I saw of the responses. It was like everybody was looking at their

computer at that time. I hope he will recover from it, he better watch it

(laughs). I got like dozens and dozens of calls and they were all for the same

thing the last couple of days. “Who is this guy? What in the hell is going on?”

And when I told them I didn’t know him they got even madder and so it was going

back and forth with the same people who were going to Twitter and just blowing

him out of the water. That’s not a good thing, if he ever wants to make it he’s

got to come out of this mess first (laughs). House Shoes is like a police watch

and he [Charles] should’ve known that just about anything that goes up someone

is watching all the time. I don’t think I would’ve done that on my dumbest day

(laughs) and stepped out there like that not knowing what to fall back on. I

mean at least you should be able to know what you’re talking about, know who

you’re talking about, before you same something. He came hardnosed like he knew

what he was talking about.

AllHipHop.com: Of

course House Shoes cleared up the comments about the J Dilla Foundation, but

what is its current status?

Ma Dukes: The J Dilla Foundation has not been up and

operating in the past year. I’m bringing that back around August when I get

myself settled I’ll be able to start working on it again in August so by the

end of the year it will be back up but it will be international. I’m still

contemplating a name change though because of all the stuff that went around

it. I’m trying to figure out if I should use one of Dilla’s other names like

one that has not been used before that’s from his early years. So I got to talk

to my daughter about that because she has all his secrets (laughs).

AllHipHop.com: What’s

next for yourself as you move on from this small bump in a far more important

road that you are traveling?

Ma Dukes: Well, I’m just gonna pray that he owns up to his

own stuff and gets his stuff together before someone comes after him. If he’s

releasing stuff like that and that name like that, and beats like that, then

he’s setting himself up for a really big law suit if he doesn’t get it right.

He needs to just maybe lay back and get it straight. That’s my advice because

I’ve seen it done too many times. Some people will do it when they have no

benefit coming from it but they’ll still go after him. You’ve got people out

there and when you’re talking about Dilla they’re not buying it. As an artist

it’s a bad start. I don’t wish him any ill; he just needs to get it right. We

all make mistakes it’s just that the first remedy is to own up to it and he

hasn’t done that yet. And that’s silly when you don’t apologize for things and don’t

own up to what you’ve done. He has some issues to address that have nothing to

do with music. I do expect respect at the end of the day.