J Dilla

J Dilla
The Shining
Bbe / Beat Gen, 2006

What can I say about J Dilla that hasn't already been said? He was a genius. He brought soul back to hip hop. He remains an influence on a whole generation of producers and artists, but he never got the respect he deserved. He was left off of the songwriting credits for tracks that he was largely responsible for while others took the credit and the grammy. And sometimes he just had really bad luck.
But there's no denying the otherworldly talent that he possessed. Whether it was his work with Slum Village, Pharcyde, Madlib or his solo work, everything J Dee touched was magic.
The Shining is no different. All of his solo records are on point and I don't think The Shining is any better or worse than Donuts or Welcome to Detroit, for instance. It just happens to be my personal favorite.
I can listen to this record over and over and over. That's how I know an album is truly great, because I have an extremely short attention span. There was one point where this CD did not leave the changer in my car for two weeks. Compare that to Jawbox, one of my other favorite bands, who was the reigning champ at three days. That's serious.
An obvious highlight for me is "So Far to Go", featuring Common and D'Angelo. It's one of the smoothest, utterly irresistible jams I have ever heard. It's one of those songs that just works on all levels. And that's just one track. The instrumental tracks are just as good as the tracks that feature such heavyweights as Pharoahe Monch, Guilty Simpson, Busta Rhymes and Black Thought.
I really can't overstate how highly I think of J Dilla and how much I love this record. It's a hip hop record, yeah. But you don't have to like hip hop to enjoy it. He had the gift to make music that transcended genres and appealed to everyone. And that was his true genius.