Like Tupac before him, J Dilla is an artist whose posthumous legacy has far exceeded the recognition he received while still alive. A major reason for this is the effort made by The Roots to keep the memory of the renowned beatsmith alive through not only their music, with dedication tracks on Phrenology and Game Theory, but through ?uestlove’s website, Okayplayer.com.
Since his death in 2006, the message board there has had many topics and conversations regarding Jay Dee that range from admiration to downright idolatry. It reached such a fever pitch not only amongst message board posters internetwide but in Hip-Hop circles in general, that for a good while “Dilla Changed My Life” t-shirts were all the rage.
Whether or not you agree with some of the outright stannery that has been rampant since J Dilla’s death, you have to respect the man’s accomplishments. Dilla simultaneously pushed the music envelope for the Native Tongues collective and similar artists while being able to put Detroit on the hip hop map for artists who are not of the Caucasian persuasion and beef with pop starlets.
Today, nearly 4 years to Dilla’s untimely demise, The Roots have killed two birds with one stone with Dilla Joints, a mixtape of their interpretations of choice Dilla cuts. Black Thought appears nowhere on this project but for those who have been holding their breath waiting for the Roots crew to make something dope since Things Fall Apart, you can inhale. Deeply. They’ve managed to not only produce an inspired tribute to the man and his music, but also demonstrate that they still have the ability to coax head nodders out of those instruments.
Musically, Dilla Joints is a return to what made many of us like them in the first place, an organic sound grounded in a melodic aesthetic with heavy drum kicks. From top to bottom, this mixtape is stellar. There’s nary a track to skip over and it’s so good that you forget there’s no vocals.
?uest and crew start things off with a bang on the second track “Hot Shit.” It’s got some snappy snares, rolling bass licks and those hand claps that Dilla was so well known for. This track is guaranteed to be the background for many a dorm, barracks, or basement cipher. Their take on “World Full of Sadness” is equally good. It features a nice thump to it over some haunting background vocals that make you kind of disappointed that’s its only about a minute and a half long. “Antiquity” is probably the tour de force of the project as it features the Miguel-Atwood Dillchestra. Imagine the dramatic music that plays in the background of nearly every Spike Lee Joint, add more low end to it, speed up the BPMs a little bit, and voila, “Antiquity”.
The Roots have really outdone themselves with Dilla Joints, question is, why can’t they make music this good for their own albums?
01. Donuts Outro
02. Hot Shit (I’m Back!)
03. World Full Of Sadness
04. Upper Egypt
06. The Stars
07. Antiquity (feat. The Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Dillchestra)
08. She Said
09. Hall & Oates
11. Look Into Her Eyes
12. Make Em NV
13. Oh! O!
14. Wicked Ways
Download: The Roots – Dilla Joints (88MB)
out of 5
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