Brooklyn Bodega and Berklee School of Music are teaming up to bring a little bit of J Dilla's legacy to the borough's annual hip-hop festival. Because this year's festival will focus closely on the Detroit born producer, on July 6, members of the school's J Dilla Ensemble, including a faculty advisor, dj, and Berklee alum Raydar Ellis, will all participate in a panel discussion on Dilla's techniques and creative process.

"Hip-Hop is over thirty years old. It is time to create a comprehensive intellectual archive of all that our culture has produced and given to the world," said Wes Jackson, director of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival and Brooklyn Bodega. "Hip-Hop is a multi-billion dollar industry; we must move beyond just the entertainment aspect. We are excited to be launching the Education Initiative at this year's Festival. Joining forces with an esteemed institution such as Berklee, along with its faculty and students, makes our endeavor even more potent."

Dilla passed away from lupus in 2006. Two years later, Ellis designed the framework for the J Dilla Ensemble based on student demand, demonstrating that the study of hip-hop deserves a place at the music school. The course shines an academic light on Dilla's work by analyzing and performing his catalogue. The group is also connected to the newly reformatted J Dilla Foundation which is founded by Dilla's mother, Maureen Yancey, who was inspired to develop the foundation's sector focusing on aspiring young musicians, after seeing the 9-piece ensemble perform in 2009. The ensemble performing with De La Soul includes violinists, emcees, and saxophonist. In the future both Ellis and Yancey hope that the ensemble will play a larger role in the foundation's youth outreach initiative by conducting workshops with college and grade school students.

Reflecting a full range of hip-hop culture, the Brooklyn Hip-Hop festival will be held July 5-10 at select locations throughout the borough. For more information visit

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