Review: J Dilla – The Shining

One day, Karriem Riggins got a call from his friend James Yancey. The call was short, but it ended with a prophetic message. “I want you to help me finish this album,” Dilla said.

The album that Yancey was talking about was The Shining, a massive body of work of off-kilter, soulful beats, old school samples, and old school lyricists. Legend has it that Dilla produced a majority of this album on his hospital bed, it was 75% complete (but unmastered) before he died.

In his second posthumous release J Dilla reminds us of what he brought the hip-hop industry The disc features such backpacker all stars as Common, Pharoe Monch, MED, Madlib, and Black Thought. Not to mention Busta Rhymes and Dwele. What results is a collection of solid lyrics, soulful samples, and off-kilter beats.

From the start, Busta Rhymes goes off on his classic “I have ADD” tangent. The beat though, a play off of Rise of the Bumblebee is fire though. But good lawd Busta, you need to turn it down a notch. After the first track wakes you up, the rest of the album calms down. Common shines of E=MC2, making it one of the best song that I’ve heard from him in a long time. Common, bests that notion with his rhymes on “So Far To Go,” a rework of his previous single “Go,” and manages to entice D’Angelo out of hiding. (On a side note…Dude, when is the next album coming out?

The middle hump of the disc is filled with the somewhat disposable “Jungle Love” featuring MED, and Detroit rapper Guilty Simpson filling in for Dilla. Next is one of the flyest instrumentals of the year in “Over the Top.” “Body Movin” is a percussion based instrumental, while “classic” Dwele reemerges on the remix of Dime Piece.

But in grand fashion, the best is saved for last. J Dilla himself rhymes on “Won’t Do,” reminding everyone that he’s not just a great producer, but the dude can rhyme as well.

All in all, The Shining is an amazing album that will hopefully keep the legend of J Dilla alive and inspire future generations to get behind the boards instead of behind the bling.