J Dilla & Rakim To Be Honored With Kennedy Center Performances

J Dilla and Rakim are set to be honored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with special performances.

The cultural center is putting on a season of concerts in the coming months to celebrate the history of Hip Hop and jazz.


On March 30, Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge and the Black Radio Orchestra will celebrate both Dilla and jazz legend Duke Ellington with a one-off show at Concert Hall.

Following that, on April 19, Rakim and DJ Jazzy Jeff will join forces with bandleader Ravi Coltrane to form “The Rakim & DJ Jazzy Jeff & Ravi Coltrane Project.”


Simone Ecclestone, the organization’s director of Hip Hop culture and contemporary music, said: ““We are so excited to launch our Hip Hop & Festival celebrating the deeply interconnected and symbiotic relationship between Hip Hop and Jazz. As two of America’s greatest art forms and vital genres within the Black Music Continuum, they have transformed global culture.”

She added: “We are elated to have incredible musical vanguards such as Rakim, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Ravi Coltrane, Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge, and Igmar Thomas’s Revive Big Band, performing as part of this year’s festival uplifting the artistic contributions of icons such as Duke Ellington, J Dilla, and John Coltrane.”


The Kennedy Center has made steps in recent years to greater feature Hip Hop, organizing performances from the likes of Nas and the Clipse while honoring Queen Latifah.

In 2016, Q-Tip was named the center’s first ever artistic director of Hip Hop culture.

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The A Tribe Called Quest legend said at the time: “With Hip Hop constantly changing and evolving, it is easy to forget the history and legacy that precede it. I want to begin at the beginning of the Culture to help people see its roots, better understand its present, and responsibly create its future.”

The following year, LL COOL J became the first rapper to be celebrated at the Kennedy Center Honors in what was the organization’s 40th ceremony.


The night featured a number of legends performing LL’s classic hits with Busta Rhymes delivering a rendition of “Mama Said Knock You Out” while Black Thought did a version of “It Gets Rougher.”

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