If one of the better duos in the rap game want to have a go on an underappreciated J Dilla beat, I’m paying attention. Audio Push are slowly cementing themselves as a force to be reckoned, and given hip-hop’s lack of true duos (and that doesn’t mean two artists coming together for a one-off project), they’ve definitely got a chance of filling the void that, arguably, was last housed by the Clipse.
The beat is a bonafide classic. Dilla captured a perfect chillout vibe with a bassy hip-hop edge, Common did justice to it on the Finding Forever album, and now Audio Push revive the soulful production for this quick release. Their verses are as solid as ever, with some likeable moments of biographical storytelling laid alongside good raps about their current lives- the latter is actually quite refreshing as rather than focus on the typical ‘bragger raps’, there are moments of honesty and insight that strip away the arrogance and suit the reflective nature of the production. It would be an easy move to stick with the brash, confident raps and just apply them to this beat, but they certainly deserve credit for adjusting their game where many artists in their position probably wouldn’t have bothered, whilst Preston’s soulful hook caps things off smoothly.
On recieving Smoke’s K.O.N.Y. mixtape in October, this was the standout track. That’s not just because of the feature and Batman-related title either: the production is J Dilla’s hugely-underappreciated and utterly phenomenal Over the Breaks (sidenote: Dilla fans in London and Manchester, check out these Dilla-related events).
Backed by booming percusson and snarling synths, DZA opens with a very likeable, Pusha T-esque verse, combining the thoughts of a ‘disaffected youth’ in with some aggression, and packaging the lyricism into a good flow that rides the beat well. Joey’s on next with a slick delivery of his own, throwing together some very clever lines in a performance that quite simply oozes confidence and quality, and he’s unquestionably a great fit for this dark and intense production.
The beat is allowed time to breathe towards the end, and that allows the video’s story to surface unopposed. The monochrome filter serves to enhance the production’s downbeat nature, whilst the video’s focus on the grittiness and inherent perils of street life are in turn boosted by the audio, building to a dramatic twist at the end that makes this worth watching. It’s a raw, realistic video and when backed by the excellent audio, it’s one you’ll watch several more times. Great audiovisual.
For the third year in a row Manchester’s Hip-Hop community are coming together to celebrate the life and work of the one and only James ‘J-Dilla’ Yancey. Always sold out in advance this event has become the not to be missed date of the year, much like it’s London equivalent now in it’s 7th year.
This year we once again have the brilliant Detroit MC and friend of Dilla’s Phat Kat on hosting duties while some of the UK’s best DJs pay tribute to a producer that has influenced them all. With Spin Doctor mixing an all AV set, special guest Kidkanevil both alongside Manchester’s own Me Scruff, Hoya Hoya, In The Loop & Juicy residents there is a phenomenal amount of talent on show tonight all giving up their time for free to raise money for the J-Dilla Foundation and Lupus UK. With yet another exclusive T-shirt designed and printed just for these events available alongside Dilla produced CDs and more this event is sure to be another huge success!
Minimum donation: £6 advance, buy here
Address: Ruby Lounge, 28-34 High Street, Manchester M4 1QB
The UK’s Only OFFICIAL J-Dilla Tributes. All proceeds from tickets & merchandise go to J-Dilla Foundation & Lupus UK. For seven years on the trot London’s No.1 Hip-Hop party promoters and thousands of dedicated fans have celebrated the life and work of the incredible James “J-Dilla” Yancey.
Standing alone as THE Hip-Hop event of the year it is hard to better it year on year but with a refreshed line up of DJs spinning Dilla classics you know and rarities you don’t, Spin Doctor spinning a special AV set & of course the t-shirt designed exclusively for the event this is sure to be another big year. DJs performing for free on the night in loving memory are: Shortee Blitz, Mr Thing, Spin Doctor (Dilla AV Set), Kidkanevil, Alexander Nut, Kutmah, DJ LoK (Dilla breaks set) & special guests. Hosted by Phat Kat.
Minimum donation: £6 advance, Ticketweb
VIP tickets: £30, grants exclusive access to VIP bar and balcony & includes an exclusive J-Dilla T-Shirt & CD.
Address: Scala, 275 Pentonville Road, Kings Cross, London N1 9NL
Overdue isn’t the word! From what I gleaned, Stones Throw held a competition of sorts to see who could make the best video for this track, with the winner being released as the official visual: It appears this particular video took that accolade.
This was one of the most popular beats on the seminal Donuts album, hence releasing a visual after the intervening years of posthumous appreciation represents an enormous risk of upsetting Dilla’s many fans. However, those fears are unfounded and these guys have done a very good job with the soulful soundscape, wrapping it into a video full of donut symbols, and plenty of circular symbolism to accompany it. In particular, the cyclical rise and fall of the uniformed officer is poignant, as he slowly shifts from hungrily eyeing up his tray of donuts to a heroic phase, and eventually deteriorates back from heroism into gluttony as he looks on despairingly whilst the last donut of the the night is unceremoniously guzzled by only the relaxed, non-cyclical character. There’s plenty more to be gleaned (but I’m out of space), and regardless it’s both an enjoyable watch at surface level and a superb listen.
‘I heard about this track before I ever actually heard it from a very excited DJ Head back in ’94, right around the time that F.C. (Funky Cowboys) was created. In his typical fashion when he had heard something that nobody else had, Head just giggled and said “man, Proof and Jaydee got this new record, man…” When I heard it I knew what Head was so amped-up about, these guys really had a crazy chemistry together. That’s T3 of Slum Village on the chorus.‘ (Paul Rosenberg’s blog)
Can’t disagree with the above, as the chemistry between the late Dilla and Proof is evident on this smoothed out jam from 1994. Dilla served up a head-nodding production that really pulls you back to the warm summers of childhood, whilst Proof comes through with a mixture of flows that accentuate his wordplay nicely. To be honest, he could be rapping about toast and I’d love this: it’s completely caked in nostalgia, and feels like it pulls you right back in time, a feeling that I’m a huge sucker for. Plus, it’s Proof and Dilla!!
Projects like this always get me excited. Released in between Dilla’s birthday and the day of his passing, it’s a fitting tribute from one of the nicer upcomers in the game, and acts as a dedication to both the man himself and his incredible Donuts album. Dilla beats beg for a talented rapper to take them on, so what better way to honour him than with some bars.
This should be interesting. Stones Throw have managed to get their hands on 3 unreleased Dilla instrumentals, as well as instrumentals for 3 previously-released tracks that were never made available. The tracks in question are Mos Def-History, Q-Tip-Move, and Busta Rhymes-You Can’t Hold A Torch.
Looking forward to giving this a go, and you can grab the entire thing for free below. Dedicated DJs can buy the collection on vinyl too from Stones Throw.