Following up the first anthology of Dilla’s production for other artists, Rapster Records comes back with a collection of remixes that Dilla did across his career. Unfortunately, the collection starts off with two tracks that he produced originally, “Stakes is High” by De La Soul and “Y? (Be Like That)” by the Pharcyde, and they don’t vary that much from the original version. I’m not quite sure the reasoning behind this approach other than these are two of the better known artists on this volume. Not to worry, though, because by track three we get to Masta Ace Incorporated’s “Sitting on Chrome.”” I don’t know if you’ve listened to the original version lately, but I recently revisited it, and let’s just say it doesn’t hold up well. It was doomed to die in the mediocre background of early nineties SoCal rap. Dilla, however, gives the song funk, soul, bite, killer snare hits and warm electric piano. It also makes the female vocal sample work so much better, and covers up the fairly weak lyrics. Now we understand what Dilla was capable of as a remixer. The Slum Village song “Fall in Love” gives us another track that Dilla worked on originally, but the remix veers away from the original, giving it a darker and starker tone, taking away the sweet vocal sample making you think everything is going to be all right. Instead, this version presents a scary uncertain love that makes the listener slightly uncomfortable. Interesting, to say the least. The remix of Four Tet’s “As Serious As Your Life,” shows Dilla perhaps as his best, taking an interesting un-hip hop track, adding more off a groove to it, still keeping it moving and slightly off-kilter, and keeping the vocals from Guilty Simpson interesting and minimal. Listening to “Woo Hah!!!” takes me back, although there is always a push-pull dynamic with Busta’s urgent harsh vocals against the smooth, laid-back funk of Dilla’s production. I can never seem to make up my mind whether or not I like it. When it comes to Artifacts, I don’t necessarily care for “The Ultimate,” and Dilla doesn’t really save it this time. Once we get to Mood’s “Secret of the Sand,” we come across the rare track that I prefer the original to Dilla’s remix. I feel as weird writing this as you probably do reading it. Spacek’s “Eve” is probably the strangest track on the compilation, in that the track was originally slow, laid back, warm, and soulful, and Dilla actually comes in to provide some edge and hardness to the track. Frank ‘n’ Dank don’t really add anything to the track, but I feel that way about most of their rhymes. Dilla gives a little bit more of a bite to DJ Cam’s “Love Junkie” with Cameo, but both the original version and the remix really just highlight what bad lyrics Cameo are working with. In “Oblighetto,” by Brother Jack McDuff, Dilla takes on one of the biggest challenges in taking a stellar early sixties jazz track and putting his own spin on it (Seriously, if you haven’t heard the original version of “Oblighetto,” put down what you’re doing and go listen to it right now. I’m serious. I’ll wait.). Dilla’s take is decent, giving it a harder groove, and shortening it up, but it just can’t compare to the original. Dilla does do better with the Brand New Heavies, who often produce good music missing the edge to make it stick with you. Dilla, plus a good verse from Q-Tip, does just that. All in all, not an amazing collection, but an interesting one at the very least. I don’t think this is going to win any new Dilla fans, but it certainly gives the already converted an interesting perspective on his opus.
|Title:||J Dilla - Dillanthology Volume 2|