Hip-hop producer J Dilla's beat-making gear headed to Smithsonian

Last week, the Smithsonian announced two of J Dilla's production tools would be displayed at the upcoming National Museum of African American History and Culture. Thanks to a donation from his mother (pictured above), the influential artist/producer's custom Minimoog Voyager and Akai Music Production Center (MPC) 3000 Limited Edition will be part of a collection that aims "to explore how popular music helped shape the nation's history and culture politically and socially." Before passing away in 2006, J Dilla worked with A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, The Roots, The Pharcyde and many more, creating unique sounds for each in addition to his own solo work. "Everyone who pays attention to hip-hop has heard J Dilla's work whether they realize it or not," said Timothy Ann Burnside, the museum's popular music historian. "In the very demanding world of hip-hop producers, he was one of the busiest and most sought-after." When the museum opens in 2016, Dilla's instruments will be included in the "Musical Crossroads" exhibit — one of the venue's 11 inaugural collections. If you're unfamiliar with his work, there's a brief introductory Spotify playlist from our Engadget channel just after the break.