observations, reviews and ramblings about Hip-Hop culture, sports, politics and the industry and life in general.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Dilla party is going to be great

As you may have read on the Bodega because of layout issues we had to cut some works from our J Dilla annotation for the jam on November 1st.

So here is the complete annotation as written by myself, Jake, James, and Roni

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De La Soul – “Stakes is High”, Stakes Is High
“Stakes” marks the first time Jay Dee worked with a Native Tongue group outside of Tribe, and return of De La post Buhloone Mind State and the first time their production was not handled by Prince Paul. Dilla was not known outside industry circles and it took a close read of the credits to see who crafted this masterpiece. “Stakes” also shows the diversity of the Dilla sound. Gone is the minimalist sound of Slum Village. It is replaced with a truly unique sample and a haunting bass line.

A Tribe Called Quest – “1nce again”, Beats, Rhymes, & Life
The first single off ATCQ’s Beats, Rhymes, & Life, this track defined a summer. The drums thumped but the melody was passive, something only Dilla could pull off. The purposeful slackness to them, the swing in each one seemed to make the beat more efficient, more hitting. And also made the emcees shine. Just ask Q-Tip and Phife.

Tribe Called Quest – “Get A Hold”, Beats, Rhymes, & Life
One day in history when it will be mandatory to study hip-hop in the educational curriculum’s worldwide, the section featuring A Tribe Called Quest will be broken down into two time periods: A Pre-Jay-Dee Period and Post-Jay-Dee Period. “Get A Hold” is from the Tribe album Beats, Rhymes And Life is the beginning of the alliance between Jay-Dee and Ali-Shaheed under the moniker of the Ummah where Jay-Dee led the charge.

Janet Jackson - Got Till It’s Gone, Velvet Rope
The one thing that thing that became consistent with Dilla and his music was the fact that he was consistently changing. His ability to keep it fresh and appealing is exactly why he is revered as one of the all-time greats. Just when you thought his style could be defined, he would totally go left with it. A prime example of this was when he scored Janet Jackson’s “Got Till It’s Gone.” Many thought Q-Tip produced this track, and was a mistake that would happen much throughout Dilla’s career.

A Tribe Called Quest – “4 Moms”, The Love Movement
While this instrumental track was surely a sign of things to come in what would soon be known as “The Neo-Soul Movement”, Dilla’s later work would reveal that this smoothed out pre-soulquarian sound was only one side of his musical inspiration. Still, his rhythmic sensibility is on full display here as always, with a butter guitar solo, and rolling percussion. Much more polished than the raw edge of later works Donuts or The Shining.

The Roots – “DYNAMITE!” Things Fall Apart
A standout from what many consider to be The Roots most fully realized album, DYNAMITE! was the first straight ahead Dilla produced Roots track. Questlove made it a point to gush over Dilla’s unique brand of music, warning “just remember one thing; the creator of this track is from one of the most creative crews to ever enter into the world of hip-hop.” He goes on to detail the painstaking lengths taken to recreate the track live, as it was originally programmed drums over that sweet guitar loop.

Q-Tip - Vivrant Thing, Amplified
“Vivrant Thing” was the Q-Tip’s first solo record post Tribe. There was a lot riding on this record and Jay-Dee delivered. “Vivrant Thing” was one of the biggest crossover records of the year. It solidified Q-tip as a legit solo artist. The single also catapulted Q-Tip from member of a ground breaking hip-hop group, to Q-Tip the performer, one who could be recognized as his own entity.

D’Angelo - Voodoo
Although not specifically credited, Dilla was a huge, huge influence on this album. You can hear it in every lazy rim shot, clean ride, and layered snap. Everyone wanted the sound of this LP after it dropped. It shaped popular music for at least the next three to four years. As big as this album was, it partly was due to Dilla playing the background.

Common – “Heat”, Like Water For Chocolate
Serving as the first track on Common’s seminal Like Water For Chocolate album “Heat” sets a definite tone for the LP. Com goes in hard over Dilla’s thumping track, obviously infused with the African rhythms of Afro-Beat Pioneer, Fela Kuti. This track is a precursor to Dilla’s more Fela influenced beats, more akin to the stuff on D’angelo’s Voodoo than anything from say, his Fantastic Vol. 2 work. Also a glimpse of what would come to be the monumental “F--- The Police”.

Slum Village & Common – “Thelonious”, Like Water For Chocolate

A great track off a great album. The production is flawless: cut piano stabs over drums for the gutter of your mind. Just grimy and perfectly dirty. The track seemed to come at just the right time in the album, just after another set of time traveling, after a Film Called (Pimp). The pace quickened, and intense, sharp lyrics were reintroduced. In short, your attention was captured once again. Plus, Dilla’s verse on this was one of the shining moments on the album (“...look like King Kong shook it…”).

J-88 – “Look of Love Part 1”, Best Kept Secret
J-88 aka Slum Village released the phenomenal Best Kept Secret EP on German label Groove Attack. For many, this was their first taste of Dilla and SV as “Look of Love” was the lead single off of Groove Attack’s groundbreaking Superrapin’ compilation. “Look” was the harbinger of the non-Ummah Jay Dee sound that would define SV, Frank N Dank as well as Dilla’s solo work. Lazy hooks, effortless rhymes, kick drums that shake your eardrum, and simple yet powerful drum patterns. The remix “Pt.2” by Madlib marked the first collaboration between the two producers who would later form Jaylib.

Slum Village – “I Don’t Know”, Fantastic vol.2
Taken from the original, Fantastic Vol.1 and showcases one of Jay-Dee’s strongest attributes as a prolific beat maker - the unique ability to take a sample or loop that has already been used and absolutely flip it and make it his own. In this case he uses James Brown, and separates this joint from all others is Jay-Dee’s presence of mind to take something you heard before, and make it sound brand new. If you want to know what Jay-Dee’s music sounds like, this is it.

Slum Village – “Fall In Love”, Fantastic vol.2
The very instant the drums hit, you know this song is going to be lush. From the classic Fantastic, Vol. 2, “Fall In Love” was my personal favorite Jay Dee track for a very long time. A perfect example of Dilla’s incredible ear for samples, utilizing a soft Gap Mangione song, “Diana In The Autumn Wind”, and a signature drum pattern that is unmistakably Dilla defined. The hook is infectious, and the verses laid down by T3 and Baatin are among my most favorite ever. “F--- this rap sh—I listen to classical” Maybe I’m biased as I’ve always loved SV, but it’s a crime how underrated they were as MC’s, always adding a layer to Jay’s thick rhythms.

Fantastic – Untitled – Slum Village, Fantastic vol.2
Arguably the best SV song taken from their classic album “Fantastic Vol.2.” This is the SV sound. The Dilla sound that so many artists have copied. That overpowering snare that defined the Ummah. The way Dilla pulls the beat out on Baatin’s verse and the beginning of his own is a masterful combination classic DJ technique and innovative production. T3, Baatin, and Dilla spit their rhymes like Mingus played the bass. Completely in the pocket and perfectly mixed within the composition. Simply, a piece of art.

Pharcyde – “Runnin”, Labcabincalifornia
Another Dilla hit before many knew who he was. “Runnin’” helped The Pharcyde transition from eccentric LA skaters to respected MC’s. This was a new mature sound for the quartet when many were looking for “Passing Me By” part 2. This track would not have worked for Tribe, De La, Common or any of Dilla’s usual cast of characters. The horn samples compliment Slim Kid Tre perfectly and the RUN DMC scratches are simply perfect. Instead of hi hats Dilla used shakers to keep the track moving, an innovative use of percussion which would become one of his trademarks.


Jay Dee – “Fuck The Police” 12 inch
Two words: Underground Classic. When this 12” was released in 2001, it was everywhere. The DJ that spun at your local venue while you waited for the main act to grace the stage played it; your friends had it; you bought the vinyl for that first bar of open, Dilla-crispy drums. Released only as a single it received nods from both the streets and the backpacker-ridden basements - something Dilla seemed to achieve with ease. Also, the sampling of the obscure library record for the catchy hook helped turned this single into a quiet hit. A lot of people use and have used library records, and have made great songs, but Dilla made an anthem with this track.

J-Dilla – “Make Em’ NV”, Ruff Draft
“Make Em’ NV” can be found on the 2003 release, Ruff Draft. The LP is one of those rare, obscure, hard to find joints but nevertheless a very significant album. This particular track uses the same lyrics at the end from Madlib’s “Ice.” Ruff Draft marks the first reference to the outside world of Jay and Madlib’s group, Jaylib. “Make Em’ NV” also marks one of the first times Jay-Dee begins to refer to himself as J-Dilla. This is the last album credited as being done by Jay-Dee before switching to J-Dilla.

McNasty Filth – Jaylib, Champion Sound
“We are in this motherfucker!” One thing I regret about Dilla’s passing is that there will not be another Jaylib album. The pairing of Dilla and Madlib produced one of the few albums in the past 5 years that actually pushed independent Hip-Hop forward creatively. When it is all said and done this will be our Coltrane and Monk collaboration. “McNasty” displays not only Dilla as an MC who can translate his style over another composer beats but also long time collaborators Frank N Dank.

Dilla – Donuts
Officially released just three days prior to Jay’s untimely death, Donuts transformed into a sort of impromptu swan song for the prolific artist and producer – his last collection of works completely his own. Reflecting the raw aesthetic of collaborative efforts with fellow producer Madlib, Donuts was much more disjointed and aggressive than Jay’s earlier work with Amp Fiddler, The Ummah, or The Soulquarians. Short, sample heavy tracks with layers of eerie vocal snippets created an over-all effect, revealing a more menacing side to Dilla’s sonic canon. Donuts is a beautiful example of the constantly developing talent that Jay Dee possessed - always changing, and consistently challenging.

J-Dilla – “Won’t Do”
Dilla’s synth work might get swept under the rug in time, but this track refuses to let you sweep away at it. The man had such talent on the keys, enough to produce certified bangers like this one. The drum’s texture and swing are, per usual, amazing and Dilla’s verses are full of his signature-swagger (lines like, “I paid for it like the mics in the Source.”), making this worthy of a Dilla Classic label. Also, unfortunately, it might be one of the last “new” tracks we’ll ever hear him on. And, of course, he shined.

6 Comments:

Anonymous rafi said...

nice!

where's the download? :-)

October 27, 2006 1:55 AM

 
Blogger ian said...

Yeah, I was trying to post a similar comment on BB - where's the mp3 links??

October 27, 2006 6:11 PM

 
Blogger Swifty said...

we in no way condone your pirate ways Mr Different Kitchen. Please refrain from corrupting our fragile psyches.

Seriously, didn't think about that.

Hope you all are coming out Wed night.

You see Lupe responded to my posts?

October 29, 2006 8:47 AM

 
Blogger ian said...

It's Tues (tmrrw) night, no?

Lupe responded? I'm going to chk that RIGHT NOW!

October 30, 2006 12:06 PM

 
Blogger ian said...

It's Tues (tmrrw) night, no?

Lupe responded? I'm going to chk that RIGHT NOW!

October 30, 2006 12:07 PM

 
Blogger ian said...

It's Tues (tmrrw) night, no?

Lupe responded? I'm going to chk that RIGHT NOW!

October 30, 2006 12:08 PM

 

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