Originally scheduled for

February 2 but postponed because of the ice storm, the Jazz Kitchen finally

played host March 23 to the J Dilla tribute show. The

event expanded in the interim:

Detroit's Black

Milk was added as headliner, and a private informational presentation about the

Red Bull Music Academy was tacked on to the beginning of the night.

The show is an annual tribute

to the late, legendary hip-hop producer J Dilla, who, in his

scant 32 years on earth, reshaped entire genres through both his solo

instrumental work and his production for artists such as Common, Busta

Rhymes and A Tribe Called Quest, among many others.

A private presentation, "How

to Apply For the Red Bull Music Academy," preceded the concert itself. The

Red Bull Music Academy is an ongoing series of music workshops staged in a

different location each session, the next of which is scheduled

for later this year in Tokyo. Each year 60 musicians are selected for the

program, which began in 1998, and past lecturers have included ?uestlove, Tiga,

Biz Markie, King Jammy and Bob Moog.

As the Seattle Times put it in 2005: "It's less a music academy than an

artists collective, with a very generous, very wealthy Santa Claus (played by

Red Bull) footing the bill."

Several members of the

audience raised their hands when asked who had already filled out the

17-page handwritten application for the Academy, which also

sponsored the concert.

"This is an investment in

your career," the Academy's Indiana representative Nick Saligoe, aka DJ

Metrognome, told the small audience. "No one from Indiana has been selected


After a short video presentation, Larry Mizzel Jr., a columnist for Seattle's The

Stranger, led an

extensive Q and A session with Black Milk.

During the interview, Black Milk said he

treasured the short amount of time he spent workingwith

the late producer.

"I never got a chance to ask him advice

about making beats," he said. "Only a few cats got to sit in that room and see

him create."

The tribute show itself got

started a half-hour later, when The Native Sun band took the stage.A

rolling cast of singers and MCs fronted the group during the set, paying

tribute to both J Dilla and the artists with whom he worked.

F.I.R.E. and Son of Thought took the

stage first, demonstrating fantastic stage presence and

chemistry with one another, followed by another duo, Mr. Kinetik and Rusty Redenbacher, that

was just as adept in working the crowd. Other highlights were Jaecyn Bayne's

intricate, a capella freestyle on his love for cannabis and

Alpha's interpretation of DOOM's Dilla-produced track, "Gazzillion


The penultimate song of the

tight, funky set featured every MC making his way to the

stage at once to take turns freestyling over alive

interpretation of J Dilla's classic grooves.

The Native Sun band and accompanying MCs

were solid, but things really got moving once the stage was

cleared and instruments switched out for Black Milk and his backing

band. The band warmed the crowd up while Black Milk rapped the opening

song using a cordless microphone backstage. The MC then burst on the

scene, spitting rhymes furiously and clutching a soon-to-be sweat-drenched


The entire packed house was tuned to the

same vibration, and several audience members rapped along to every word of the show. When Black Milk's set ended

several audience members begged for an encore, which came in the form

of one last song, followed by a full-band instrumental freak-out.


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