“Chocolate City” birthday at The Roxy, February 10

This concert was originally intended to pull double-duty as a celebration of KCRW “Chocolate City” host Garth Trinidad’s 10-year anniversary and as a fund-raiser for Macy Gray’s M. Gray Music Academy. Instead, as Trinidad announced from the stage, the show became an impromptu tribute to 32-year-old hip-hop producer Jay Dee/J Dilla (A Tribe Called Quest, Common, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Janet Jackson), who died of kidney failure here in Los Angeles the morning of the concert. Although golden girl Res cancelled, fellow Chocolate City staples Van Hunt, N’dambi and J-Davey all showed up. (Macy spun in the upstairs VIP lounge, On the Rox.) Hunt, not known for the most scintillating stage shows, was surprisingly good, performing a too-brief set of stripped-down versions of “Seconds of Pleasure” and “Down Here in Hell (With You)” and a new tune, “On the Jungle Floor,” from his forthcoming album. Confident and relaxed, he evoked Curtis Mayfield with his voice, while his pose of studied cool had ladies sighing at the foot of the stage. N’dambi, considered by many to be the queen of indie R&B, showed a Tina Turner rock & roll bent as she sauntered onstage in hot pants and toothpick-thin heels, air-boxing and furiously tossing her fro while singing. Although her hit “Call Me” was a powerhouse set-closer, it was her cover of Prince’s “Soft & Wet” — slinky, funky — that brought the roof down. Next-big-thing J-Davey — an urban American Yaz (boy on electronic beats, girl on vocals) — were high on cocky attitude but low on the means to back it up. They sent the crowd fleeing only one and a half songs into their set. In truth, the best artist of the night was DJ Dusk, whose masterful spinning of ’70s funk, neo-soul and white-label remixes laced a breezy, care-melting vibe between acts.

—Ernest Hardy

LA Weekly