James Yancey grew up inDetroit, Michigan. The family lived in a house on the northeast corner of McDougall and Nevada, on the east side of Detroit.Yancey's parents had musical backgrounds; his mother, Maureen "Ma Dukes" Yancey, is a former opera singer and his father, Beverly Dewitt Yancey, was a jazz bassist, and performedGlobetrottershalf-time shows for several years.Yancey's mother said that he could "match pitch perfect harmony" before he learnt to speak.
Along with a range of other musical genres, Yancey developed a passion for hip hop music. After transferring fromDavis Aerospace Technical High SchooltoPershing High School, he befriended his classmates T3 andBaatinthrough their mutual interest inrap battles; the three later formed the rap groupSlum Village.Yancey also took up beat-making using a simple tape deck as the center of his studio.n his teenage years, he "stayed in the basement alone" to train himself to produce beats with his growing record collection.
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