J Dilla, “Dillatronic”

JDilla_2015_DillatronicJ Dilla

Like the passing of Tupac Shakur, Arthur Russell, or Kurt Cobain, the 2006 death of progressive hip-hop producer J Dilla does not seemed to have slowed his output, but, rather, enhanced it. The newest salvo then is as curious as it is cool: forty-one rare instrumentals from the man behind the hard electro of Jaylib and Busta Rhymes as well as (most prominently) the loping soulful soundscapes of The Roots, The Pharcyde, and A Tribe Called Quest amongst many others. Broken into three vinyl volumes, Dillatronic‘s numerically titled tracks nod toward his signature sounds: detuned watery synth-funk (“11”), twittering strings and floaty layered sequences reminiscent of Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls” (“16”), swiping percussive streaks below spare cello samples and space bloops (“20”), dub celestial riffs (“1”), and soulful ethereal cloudiness (“41”). Overall, these instrumental tracks are more historically fascinating than sonically rewarding or enjoyable, but this trek down memory lane is worth it for no other reason than hearing where Dilla’s head was without the sound of rappers to push him.


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