legacy of J Dilla

Black Milk’s dropping his first solo album Popular Demand on March 13th and its some solid, serious post-Dilla hip-hop – considering how much attention was paid to Donuts* this shit might end up getting a lot of that Urb/Scratch hype/attention (a la Lupe). Black Milk was in BR Gunna, the production trio (Black Milk, Young R.J. and Fat Ray) that did a bunch of Slum Village shit, so obviously the Dilla influence is strong with this one. The album is pretty consistent and he can actually rap, can hold your attention over a single track or even a couple tracks in a row, which (let’s be real) is refreshing over unquantized neo-soul rap beats. (Here come a million several angry Elzhi fans)(haha ok, cards on the table, we only have five readers in 2007 and odds are none of them care about Elzhi). So the legacy of J Dilla is …? Well, there’s a lot of obvious ‘good’-derivative but a fair amount of weak, boring shit came out of this sound too. And while there’s no debate Dilla was a great producer in a unique and highly stylized niche it’s hard for me to enjoy this shit is straight up ‘rap music’ mostly because so many of the dudes who took to it just. Can’t. Rap. So boring! Sometimes I even wish Dilla’s focus had been more R&B-oriented, more “Dollar,” less Donuts, just because his style seems to have had more of a profoundly interesting influence on that end than it did for this style of hip-hop. Or maybe its an issue of context; generally when i’m out at your more upscale-chic-headwrap type clubs, its more fun to hear DJs who are invested in hip-hop as only one aspect of this Detroit aesthetic, who plays it as a balancing act between R&B, dance and Phonte, or whoeverthefuck, rather than hearing dudes like Black Milk as street narrative album auteurs or some shit a la gangsta rap or underground backpacker rap etc.

*while I understand the need to buy into the Dilla legacy was urgent it was just a beat tape(!) not A Love Supreme, vs. The Shining which I thought was, while flawed, a pretty good state-of-Dilla’s last days rap/R&B cd

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