Quick Takes: J Dilla, The Roots, El Nino, Kings of Diggin’


J DillaThe Shining (preorder at Amazon)

With two posthumous releases already in 2006, and two more coming down the pike, you are already seeing the evolution of hip-hop greatness at a level we didn’t see when he was alive. You know where I’m going with this. If Tupac is the new Elvis, then J Dilla is the new Tupac.

But with Dilla, that’s a good thing. Although the man had a production catalog that would rival the elite in the game, the dude pretty much went unnoticed for most hip-hop heads throughout a majority of his career. His death, however, has brought us a new revelation of a master producer who deserved more respect when he was alive.

The Shining, which Dilla never completed, is a testimony to the dude’s greatness. Unlike the beats that drove the instrumental album Donuts that was released earlier this year, the instrumentals on the Shining seem warmer, and more inviting, and remind me of his production on Champion sound. Busta, Common, MED , J Rocc, and Dwele provide their vocals to the project to varying degrees, however, the Common rap on “So Far, So Good,” probably stands out as the dude’s best rap of the past 5 years.


The RootsGame Theory (preorder at Amazon)

When The Roots moved to Def Jam, many fans predicted the group’s eminent demise. And honestly, when they released “Don’t Feel Right” as the first single I was singing the tune of doom and gloom myself. However, once you get past that track and dismiss it as a business move to entice the Hot 97 crowd, you get to see that the Philly based group has put together probably one of the best albums of their career. The only problem with Game Theory is that it is heavily crafted around samples. In the end makes it better, but of course it defeats the purpose of having a band, doesn’t it?


Ocote Soul Soundz & Adrian QuesadaEl Nino Y El Sol (buy at Amazon)

El Nino y El Soul, the new collabo from Ocote Soul Soundd and Adrian Quesada landed in my mailbox at a time when I was getting ambushed with non-stop hip-hop and pop ish. El Nino y El Sol goes in the other direction. The disc starts off a little rough, but makes up for it towards the middle and the end and is definitely more on the afrobeat/latin jazz tip with some hip-hop elements on the side.

Funny thing is, the thing started because Martin Perna’s car broke down in the neighborhood of Adrian Quesada’s hometown of Austin during a road trip. The result was the experimental collaboration of El Nino y El Sol, which is fictitious movie about a boy trying to journey to the sun, recorded in Quesada’s home studio during those two weeks. The foundations for songs like La Lucha Sigue and Divinorum draw heavily on instrumental hip-hop, with Divinorum getting the nod from DJs such as Bobbito Garcia.

El Nino Y El Sol drops on August 8th from ESL Music.


DJ Muro/Kon and AmirThe Kings of Diggin (buy from Amazon)

Kings of Diggin is not really meant to be understood by the general public. The creators of the compillatioon know this. America just dosne’t want to listen to rare and random songs from old school artists that they’ve probably never heard of. That’s not a sexy marketing theme.

However, this compilation appeals to the crate diggers out there. The 1% of us who crawl basements, old music stores, and back alleys for an obscure drum break here or a R&B hook there. These DJ’s crawled out of the way places from all over the world to come up with the songs from this compliation, and the result is an interesting, albeit random collection of 60s and 70s soul. There’s some tunes that you’ll probably recognize, but many of these songs weren’t even popular in the decade they were produced, so your parent’s may not even know about them.
It’s a good look.