Friday, May 01, 2009

I've always looked askance at the posthumous cult that's formed around Jay Dee/J Dilla. I liked his music fine, but greatest hip-hop producer of all time, as has become the claim of a few? That seemed a few lengths too far. It still does, but Dillanthology 1 (Rapster) has definitively made me a fan, as I was hoping it would. It helps that the comp concentrates on rappers (and singers--hi Erykah, hi Mr. Fiddler), instead of half-minute beat exercises (much as I can love those: digging the new Prefuse 73 and Diego Bernal, always loved Madlib). What helps more is that this is simply a great comp, whatever argument it's making--a well-chosen, smartly sequenced mixtape that all fits perfectly together, sort of like an un-segued version of what The Real Hip-Hop: Best of D&D Studios, Vol. 1 did for DJ Premier, which was to showcase his range as well as show off a sound that was uniquely his. And Dilla's sound is far sleepier, more muffled, lower-key--boring--than Premier's, meaning that immersion is both a better way to understand it and even easier to do. (An hour is the perfect length, too.) Songs I liked already--Pharcyde, Erykah, Common--and stuff I didn't know--Slum Village and Steve Spacek expecially--all sound pretty damn beautiful here. Whoever made this happen, bravo.