Jay $tay Paid: The Album Review

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I became a fan of J Dilla when I was ten years old. I saw the video for "Got 'Til It's Gone" featuring Q-Tip and I was taken by surprise. Janet Jackson sounded very different from her typical, iconic sound. Given this was off of her concept album The Velvet Rope, which was a departure from her then-known sound. Without knowing who Dilla was, I definitely knew the person who made this beat was on some next level shit. I also remember watching the Vivrant Thing video for the first time and bugging out because my ears were experiencing the craziest beat I had heard till then; once again enjoying a Dilla track and not knowing it.

Fast forward to the present, where we can only celebrate his life through the musical legacy James "J Dilla" Yancey left behind. From '93 to '06, J Dilla released an immense amount of work. He was a member of the groups Slum Village and Jaylib (alongside The Beat Konducta Madlib), produced for large acts such as Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, and Ms.Jackson, while releasing solo work on top of that.

After Dila's passing in 2006, a few compilations have been released, paying respect to one of the most slept on Hip-Hop producers of all time. J$P is so much more than the average tribute album. This collection of tracks are personally hosted by the legendary Pete Rock (Dilla's Idol) and executive produced by J Dilla's mother, Maureen Yancey. "Ma Dukes", as she's affectionately referred to in the Hip-Hop community, worked with Pete Rock to create a great mix of beats from all different periods of Dilla's life. Even though some tracks may have years spanned between them, his unique sound is clearly present. Dilla fans will reckognize a decent amount of work on the collection; however the features and the overall presentation gives the work a life of its own.

The theme of J$P involves the radio station KJay FM playing a Dilla collection hosted by Mr. Pete Rock himself. This makes the album even more enjoyable to listen to, as Pete Rock cuts up and mixes the tracks to give you that "I caught the radio station during the exclusive late night show" vibe. The First beat you hear (King) really just makes you get that crazy, neck jerking, bounce goin on. Some people may experience severe head shaking of amazement. There are tracks from all different points of Dilla's career, as some songs have a bit more synthesizer driven sound and others vamp hard on a juicy soul sample. Also, having close to 30 tracks with a bevy of features (Dilla's brother Illa J, Lil' Fame of M.O.P.,Raekwon, Havoc of Mobb Deep, DOOM, and some dude called Danny Brown who rips "Dilla Bot vs. The Hybrid", ETC.) could further qualify this collection of music as a ridiculously ill mixtape. Even the third member of the trifecta, Dj Premier, pays his respects to Dilla right before dropping a "Neck Breaking Dilla Beats," Big City.

Other "Neck Breakers" Include: Smoke (w/Blu), Digi Girl (w/Phat Kat), On Stilts...there are more but I don't want to ruin it. There is a good balance between the instrumentals and features, which is a fair representation of Dilla's career. This deserves a solid listen through, if not a million. Dilla fans shouldn't be let down by this project, and new listeners will hopefully experience what I felt the first time I heard his work.



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