The third installment in the Dillanthology series, this collection focuses on releases from Dilla’s solo material. It opens with “Workinonit” from Donuts, which would have to be in competition for my favorite album of all time. If you’ve ever wondered what the fuss about Dilla is, you haven’t put in any quality time with Donuts. Do yourself a favor and do it. Next up, we get “Pause,” from his 2001 release, Welcome 2 Detroit. Featuring Frank-n-Dank, this track reminds us of these weak emcees who held back some perfectly good tracks with their gangsta-crutch lyrics. Fortunately, a great emcee by the name of Talib Kweli makes an appearance on the next track, “Raw Shit,” featured on the Jaylib album, Champion Sound. I’ve often held the opinion that Champion Sound was a disappointment given the level of talent that Madlib and Dilla brought to the table, but this track holds up rather well, with is fuzzy keyboard bass line, laid back funky beat, and Metroid samples. The next track, “Nothin Like This,” off of Ruff Draft, might be my favorite individual track that Dilla made. The psychedelic guitar loops, reverb-heavy snare hits, the distorted vocals - it all shows us what an inventive musician he was capable of being. “Anti-American Graffiti” is another track from Donuts, which actually works quite well in back-to-back play with “Nothin Like This.” The space created between the guitar and drums works quite beautifully. “Glamour Sho75 (09),” is one of the better tracks on the newest posthumous collection, Jay Stay Paid, and is one of the better tracks off the album. “Won’t Do,” taken from The Shining features J Dilla the emcee, who weakens a beautiful synthed and spaced out track with his stumbling lyrics. “Baby,” is another track from The Shining, another track that is quite beautiful, but suffers from some weak emcee work, this time from Guilty Simpson and Madlib. “It’s Like That” is from Welcome 2 Detroit, featuring Hodge Podge and Lacks. It’s one of the more driving tracks on the compilation. The lyrics are still a bit gangsta for my taste, but it’s not so bad. “Off Ya Chest,” is another track ruined by Frank-n-Dank. “Crushin’,” I am a bit embarrassed to say, I kind of like, even though it’s absolutely dirty, lyrically. Don’t judge me. “Reality Check,” from Jay Stay Paid, gives work with a truly great emcee, Black Thought, with a great driving drum beat that makes it one of the most urgent tracks on this compilation. “Featuring Phat Kat,” is another song on this compilation suffering from a weak emcee, and I not a huge fan of the Halloween/stalker bit at the end of the song. “So Far To Go,” reminds us of the beautiful work that Common did with Dilla, a great marriage of styles that made some really great expansive hip hop together. Having D’Angelo sing the hook doesn’t hurt, either. All in all, a little up and down, but I’m starting to appreciate that with the Dillanthology collections. Dilla’s career wasn’t perfect from start to finish, and I’m sure there are people out there that like Champion Sound and Frank-n-Dank, but this series is giving us the whole picture, and there is no better tribute to an artist than to acknowledge when they succeeded, but also when they tried and failed. Because without that, their successes would not have been as great.
|Title:||J Dilla - Dillanthology Volume 3|