Feb 27, 2011
"Whole body blingin' like 3PO."
- J Dilla
A quiet month for me personally (day job excluded) but a huge month for the world - big changes in the Middle East have had me even more glued to Al-Jazeera than usual! Music-wise, this month has marked the fifth anniversary of the passing of the great J Dilla aka Jay Dee, and so I thought I'd include a few of my favourite Dilla tracks that don't usually make it onto the lists or the tribute mixes. Of course, there are plenty of other goodies too, so turn up the volume and take it all in...
Jay Dee ft. Lacks & Big Tone : It's Like That
Simple on the surface, outrageously funky beat from the "Welcome 2 Detroit" album, the first of the "Beat Generation" producer series on BBE Records. DJ Jazzy Jeff said in a Wax Poetics interview that it was actually a little frightenting to be given the degree of freedom that was being offered, and both he and Kenny Dope allowed Dilla to be first to release, and he set the tone for everyone else - says a lot about him I think.
J-Zone/Apathy & Celph Titled : Nut Reception (Instrumental)
Straightforward but very dope instrumental off a 1981 funk break, also to be found on Yo-Yo & Ice Cube's "Bonnie & Clyde Theme." Great beat but not even one of his best, J-Zone is that dude when it comes to production, in case you didn't know...
Pete Rock ft. Kardinal Offishall : We Good
Chopmania on this Pete Rock production, you can just imagine his fingers flying over the MPC pads on this one! Kardinal Offishall brings the vocal heat here, one of my favourite MCs without question - keep an eye out for his releases.
Camp Lo : Sun Kiss
Killer B-Side from the Lo, on the flip of "Army," with both tracks appearing on the hard to find Japan-only released "Short Eyes" EP. Following on from Pete Rock's rapid guitar stabs on the last track, Tribeca is the producer here with a pad-smacking MPC assault for Sonny Cheeba & Geechi Suede to flip styles over, and as always, they deliver the goods. Lo-ah!
Sadat X ft. Agallah : Stack Up
Nottingham's own P Brothers provide the beat here and it's an old school/new school gem which is all the better for the presence of the Bronx veteran X and Brooklyn's Agallah. I almost forgot I had this on vinyl!
Natural Elements : 2 Tons
Drums and flows - sometimes you don't need much else. Dope single from one of the greatest groups never to make it big, and definitely a group I would love to see get back together! MCs would be cowering in fear...
Mixmaster Mike : ¿Agent Scanner 12?
I'm a bit puzzled on this one - it's from Mike's "Eye Of The Cyclops" 12" which is an amazingly confusingly-labelled record - it's hard to tell what's a title and what isn't, and where tracks begin and end; this is my best guess!
Reks : 25th Hour
Shout out to Lee Majors for putting me up on this one first! The MC from Lawrence, MA (not Boston, got it right this time!) is forceful and kind of low-key at the same time over this DJ Premier track. This is available as a digital release but not sure if there's a vinyl of it. Not a club track of course but one for deep personal listening, all day.
J Boogie's Dubtronic Science : Ritual Of The Nile
An appropriately Egyptian-themed track - I know nothing about J Boogie but with current events it seemed like a good time to play this! It's a cut taken from the Om Records "Deeper Concentration" compilation, which is comprised of slightly left-field instrumental and turntable cuts from the era when turntablism was beginning to gain in popularity. It's not an album I play every week but if you see it cheap, might be worth a spin!
J Dilla : Won't Do
Climax Pt.2? Dilla with an ode to not even threesomes now, but foursomes! The quote from this track at the top of this blog post is one of my favourite lines, and the production is, as you'd expect, top notch. The drums from the Isley Brothers' "Footsteps In The Dark" are centre stage and little slivers of the rest of that track flash through the spacey beat on this one.
Mary J. Blige : Every Day It Rains
Dopeness from the soundtrack to "The Show." I think I might have heard this on Westwood's show when it first came out and liked it straight away, even in my teenage R&B-hating years! Can't front on Mary though, especially over that break...
Michael Jackson : Human Nature & J Dilla : Inhuman Nature
Just a taste of the classic MJ tune to set you up for the fresh Dilla sample flip - top work from the MPC master. Unfortunately, this was never released and by the sounds of things never mixed either; a shame as I would have loved to hear this with MCs on, at release quality - maybe Nas would have been a good pick?
Jay Dee ft Frank N Dank : Move
B-Side of the "F**k The Police" 12", doesn't seem to be very popular but I preferred this track for a long time; just a really dark, slightly off-balance, menacing beat with plenty of space left for the vocals - or for scratching, if you have the instrumental. Classic Detroit.
Fakts One ft. Little Brother : Grown Folks
"Simon says 'shut the F**K up' when you try to rhyme"...oooooohhhh! Phonte and Big Pooh of Little Brother go in hard on this beat from Boston's Fakts One (who you may know from The Perceptionists). In particular, when Phonte decides to put the smack down on the proverbial sucker MC or any other subject of his ire for that matter, you might as well call the ambulance.
J Dilla ft. Pacific Division : Fantasy
Taken from the version I have of Dilla's "Jay Love Japan" EP - I understand there are a few. The slight off-beatness of this makes it slightly awkward to mix, but it's worth it for all the flavour on here, not least the Art Of Noise "Moments In Love" sample between verses. Beautiful!
Miguel Atkins-Ferguson & Orchestra : Don't Nobody Care About Us
Now this is the kind of thing that could bring me to an orchestral performance; fantastic re-interpretation of Dilla's production on the Phat Kat track of the same title. This concert was performed in 2009 but the "Suite For Ma Dukes" album only emerged the following year. On this project, Miguel Atkins-Ferguson brings a 60-piece orchestra to play huge arrangements of some of Dilla's highlights; absolutely amazing stuff and absolutely worth buying if you're a fan of the man's music, or just good music full stop.
Gangrene (The Alchemist & Oh No) : Not High Enough
DJ A-Up was bugging out about the beat for this track on Facebook; I couldn't hear it straight away but after 40 seconds I understood what he meant - killer. Tense, melancholy, reflective all at the same time, one to throw on repeat. Oh No and Alchemist are two of the most interesting producers out and the "Gutter Water" album this is taken from sees them coming together to form "Gangrene" - more of this please!
Remember to support the artists! If there's anything you like here, search out more of their material and try to buy the stuff you like the most - whatever the format! Seeing the artists live whenever they're in your area is probably the best way to put money in their pocket, so if you can stretch to it in these recessionary times then that's a winner :o) If you have Spotify in your country, it's a great way to familiarise yourself with a vast sea of tunes...