When Hip Hop lost James “J Dilla/Jay Dee” Yancey, the culture lost one of the finest and most consistent producers ever. Dilla created soundscapes for damn near everyone and was one of the few producers who didn’t have to say his name over a beat. Sadly, some still don’t know who the man was behind Common’s “Love Is” or De La Soul’s “Stakes Is High”. But that’s just how Dilla wanted it. He could go from working with an artist the caliber of Q-Tip and make #1 records like “Breath and Stop” and “Vivrant Thing” to flipping and working with local emcees like Phat Cat and Frank & Dank. From his work with Slum Village and Common, to cultivating the backdrops for D’Angelo’s Voodoo and Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun, Dilla may be the most diverse producer we have ever and will ever see in Hip Hop. He can easily be defined as your favorite producer’s favorite producer (ask Kanye West). Some pinpointed his ridiculous drums as his trademark, while others note how unreal he could chop and recreate a sample. But unfortunately Dilla lost his ongoing battle with Lupus and left a void in everyone’s heart that can never ever be filled. Before his passing, Dilla left an album that featured many of the people he worked with and something to remind us what a legendary producer he was.
What The Shining does, is offer yet another catalog of Dilla brilliance and this time he brings along a list of artist that even mainstream hip hop kids can identify with. “E=MC2″ provides that nasty Dilla thump and futuristic vibe which Common rips to shreds. It is truly unfortunate to know that there will be no more Common albums backed by the mastermind known as Dilla. “So Far So Good” features Common and a dug-up-out-of-nowhere D’Angelo for a swanky romp that will have fans of “Ghetto Heaven” clamoring. The genius continues his ways with the beautifully chopped “Baby” featuring Guilty Simpson and MED. It becomes apparent that throughout The Shining, Dilla exposes each and every angle of his talent. He even pounds like the energizer bunny on the Busta Rhymes influenced “Geek Down”. While the rambunctious beat swarms the eardrums, many would opt to either hear Busta spit or silence instead of the overly amped up ad libs offered.
What has made Dilla so brilliant in the past is to be able to construct something that fits the artists without compromising his style. Black Thought pops in to spit over “Love Movin” as the snares and hand claps seem to fit the emcee who has found his home behind Roots production for so long. Even the long lost Pharoahe Monch dives headfirst into “Love” and provides the lyrical dexterity that many of us have missed from him for so long. Dilla may be appreciated for his marvelous production, but many forget that Dilla could do his thing on the mic as well. The aforementioned “Baby” gives Dilla’s commendable mic skills the chance to shine and marks his emcee territory on “Won’t Do.”
Even though one can get long winded about Dilla and his legacy, The Shining speaks for itself. Not his best or his worst work, this is yet another collage along the fabulous timeline known as Dilla’s life in music. Although he will be sorely missed, his work speaks in volumes while his ethic can be said to be arguably the most persistent Hip Hop has ever seen. For those who have followed Dilla since the mid 90′s, this piece of work is yet another to be added to the collection. For those not absolutely familiar with the long line of work contributed by Dilla, The Shining will open the doors to reach back in history to see what exactly you missed.
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