The word legend should not be thrown around lightly. It gets tossed around on a daily basis and is the cause of many heated debates but when it comes to J Dilla he cannot be described as anything less.
Since J Dilla tragically passed back in 2006 many of his old tapes and beats have resurfaced and thus we have the sixth posthumous installment, ‘The Diary.’
Opening with a raw blast of synths and bass ‘Introduction’ sets the tone for the album featuring a pretty hard verse as well. Dilla is not necessarily known for his vocals on the tracks he creates but when he steps up to the mic his flow is captivating. There is however something to be said about the lyrics which are far from intricate. However, if you’re looking at the music that was coming out around the time from the likes of Snoop, Nelly and Ja Rule then it would have fit in perfectly.
Dilla’s increased vocal involvement in his work meant that the spots for production were left open to other amazing producers. Artists such as Madlib, Pete Rock, Nottz, Hi-Tek and Karriem Riggins – to name but a few – took over the reins to bring their own unique style to each track.
It’s not hard to tell that Dilla had fun with this album. Handing over some of the production to other heavyweights in the game meant that he could take some time stepping out from behind the mixing board. Despite limiting himself to the categories of chains, cars and women it was a definite step in the right direction to get himself out of the box that people wanted to put him in.
There are various topics Dilla challenges including the NWA inspired ‘Fuck The Police’. The track touches on issues such as being pulled over for no reason and crooked cops getting away with their very public illegal activities. If only Dilla were alive now to see how sad it is that the times haven’t changed.
JD includes a whole roster of famous faces to feature on this album including Snoop Dogg, Bilal and frequent Dilla collaborators Frank & Dank. Standing out above the rest however is ‘The Shining Pt.1 (Diamonds) featuring Kenny Wray. The light piano keys overlay those booming drums Dilla is famous for and resurfaces that classic 90s sound we all know and love.
This is also reflected in ‘The Ex’, accompanied by New York based singer-songwriter Bilal. The breezy boom-bap beat underlays the story of a nagging ex-girlfriend wanting to get back together, but Dilla would ever let that happen.
The Diary is by no means J Dilla’s best work, but it’s far from his worst. It may as well be his most experimental work spending almost every track behind the mic. However, with the likes of Snoop and Madlib to accompany him it is hard to go wrong with the overall essence of the lost tape. We may not hear anything from the late, great Dilla anytime soon, but this is more than enough to mull over until that time comes. However, in the meantime if you enjoyed the tracks above be sure to grab “The Diary” on iTunes or Stream it via Mass Appeal Records.
Stream “The Sickness” feat. Nas – J Dilla (Prod. by Madlib) Official Video
Just a quick *update* for all you gals and gents that have been following all the Dilla news with “The Diary.” As if things couldn’t get any better from a drop of the hidden tape from J Dilla, Mass Appeal has just released the music video to “The Sickness” featuring Nas. This track is definitely the centerpiece that really embodies the taste & direction of the entire album. A resurrection and embodiment of the artist we all love and remember produced by the amazing Madlib. Check out the music video below.