Review : J Dilla - Dillanthology 3
PitchforkYou know the routine by now: Here's a greatest-hits compilation, sourced from a bunch of different albums with a couple of odd singles mixed in, which doesn't have much use to diehards and tells only part of the artist's story to curious newcomers. That was roughly the case with the first volume of the Dillanthology series, one of those technically good but still somewhat redundantly inessential compilations whose omissions defined it just as much as its inclusions. And that problem was easily solved by the rarities-packed Volume 2, which did its part by containing a whole bunch of unreleased remixes that were actually worth unearthing.
With the knock on Jay Dee new jacks being that they came to his stuff only through his early-mid-2000s releases, a Volume 3 weighing heavily on that material seems even more pointless. Most of Dillanthology 3 is sourced from four albums from this decade-- Welcome 2 Detroit, Donuts, The Shining, and the recent summer release Jay Stay Paid-- as well as a track from the Ruff Draft EP and a couple of Jaylib's Dilla-produced selections from the Madlib beat-trading collaboration Champion Sound. And make no mistake, they're all good tracks from great albums. But they're great albums that the vast majority of people with at least a passing interest in Dilla already own at least one of.
Odds have it that the album in question would be Donuts, his final, sprawling sample-collage work and one of the most definitive recent examples of albums that really work best as a whole. If there's one piece of work that shouldn't be broken up into component tracks and sprinkled across a collection of other stuff, it's that one: "WorkinOnIt" (which opens the compilation) and "Anti-American Graffiti" jump out like non-sequitirs without the surrounding context of their album and get abruptly cut off with a couple of added seconds of post-track silence tacked on at the end. It feels like watching a YouTube clip of half of a dialogue scene in a feature film and then being expected to recognize how great the movie is.
Granted, there are only two dismembered pieces of Donuts on Dillanthology 3, with Dilla's more single-friendly albums taking up the bulk of the tracklisting. And there's a good cross-section of music that runs a pretty wide gamut of his production techniques over the last six or so years of his life: glimmering keyboard-drenched soul (The Shining's lush Common/D'Angelo feature "So Far to Go" and the Isley'd out "Won't Do"), ultra-taut funk (ranging from Welcome 2 Detroit track "It's Like That" to Jay Stay Paid's "Glamour Sho75 "), blown-out psychedelia (Ruff Draft EP highlight "Nothing Like This") and manic jeep beats (Jaylib cuts "Raw Shit" and "The Red"). If this compilation has a real purpose, it does so by acting as a condensed proof that Dilla's career post-majors was stylistically liberating in a way, even as it ensured that his transition to the underground vanguard was a natural one....full text
PopmattersNo one will question that James Yancey is a hip-hop deity for numerous reasons. Aside from the fact that he no longer resides on our spiritual plane, he was far and away one of the best producers to ever grace the genre. The man knew how to not just make good music, but how to make it breathe. His beats weren’t merely “beats”, they were productions. Call all this praise “stanning” if you must, but you would be foolish to deny his talent and long-lasting imprint on hip-hop. Whether in the studio on his own terms, mailing beats to Madlib, or producing for his close friends, Yancey—more commonly known as J Dilla or Jay Dee—was a force to be reckoned with. And the third installment from Rapster in his legacy, Dillanthology 3, proves just that.
Previously, Rapster used its Dillanthology releases to display his productions for his closest friends, everyone from the Roots to Janet Jackson to De La Soul, to remixes he had done over the years. And it’s important to note that even his remixes, many times of his own productions, were mostly absolutely incredible. There was just something about his drums and ability to capture specific sounds that made it exciting to see his name in an album’s production credits. But this time around, on Dillanthology 3, the focus is on beats crafted for his solo albums and Jaylib, which consisted of Dilla and Madlib. So what we have here is a spattering of joint from The Shining, Ruff Draft, Donuts, Jay $tay Paid, Welcome 2 Detroit, and Champion Sound. Can you say “classic material?”...full text
RapreviewsHonestly I think it's beginning to get a bit ridiculous. I miss James Yancey as much as any man alive. The news of Dilla's death on February 10th of 2006 hit me hard - possibly too hard. It made me miss living in Michigan. It made me miss Slum Village. It made me purchase a "J Dilla Changed My Life" t-shirt that I rock with pride every summer. I have every album he released while alive, and almost all that were released (or re-released) posthumously. There's no doubt that when to' up I've shed tears in Dilla's memory, and for me his memory looms as large as Biggie & 'Pac. Despite that I think it's beginning to get a bit ridiculous. How many posthumous compilations of Dilla do we need? It's not as though these albums are presenting new Dilla material that has never been heard before - they're just selecting choice cuts from his catalogue of work and arranging them strategically. I was okay with the first Dillanthology, a little surprised the next edition came only a few months later, and in an even shorter timespan since then we've already reached "Dillanthology 3." This HAS to stop. It's gone beyond paying tribute to shamelessly pilfering his hallowed classics.
Fortunately (and thankfully) the press release accompanying this CD declares "Dillanthology 3" the last in the series. I'm not sure why it needed to be a series in the first place, or why they couldn't have taken more time to compile it together as a three disc set, or what's to stop Rapster Records from re-releasing all three in a limited edition hardbound set just to take one more pull from the well. For me the well has run dry, much like it did when posthumous Biggie albums desperately tried to create new songs by culling verses from mixtapes and blending them with new beats, while simultaneously remixing existing Biggie songs and adding guest rappers on to make everything old new again. Enough was enough. For what it's worth though the songs on this Dillanthology don't pervert his memory by remixing them - other people do that. In fact the "Anti-American Graffiti" track which appears on this CD (1:57 in length) can be heard on the just released "Unexpected Guests" by DOOM, revamped into the song "Sniper Elite" (1:56 in length) with the Metal Face Villain flowing over it. It's not as though DOOM did a bad job with it, and I'm sure the Yancey estate approved the usage, but reviewing both albums so close together when I'm already convinced Dilla is being overexposed smacks me right in the face....full text
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