Hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the extraordinary, eclectic, producer/rapper J Dilla passed on. The Diary, the last unreleased offering from Dilla, which was originally intended to come out in 2002, has finally seen the light of day via Pay Jay Productions Inc. and Nas’ Mass Appeal Records.
The Diary is a 14-cut album with production from House Shoes, Madlib, Nottz, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, Dilla himself and a few others. Never the one to follow trends, but rather marching to the beat of his own drum, literally, Jay Dee adds his own pizazz and flair on The Diary, with verses that only Dilla himself could pull off oh so easily.
For any true fan you can’t help but feel good hearing J Dilla’s unique, yet recognizable, cadence over some fresh beats.
“The Introduction” is pure braggadocio rap from Jay over the House Shoes produced beat, while in contrast “The Anthem” is a more commercially accessible sounding record featuring Frank N Dank. As the first two tracks to begin the album, “The Introduction” and “The Anthem” set the tone for The Diary and let the listener know to be prepared for an unpredictable musical journey. For any true fan you can’t help but feel good hearing J Dilla’s unique, yet recognizable, cadence over some fresh beats.
The Diary isn’t flawless, but it’s hard to find a major misstep on it. Even with “Gangsta Boogie” having an overly simplified chorus, Hi-Tek’s production will get you nodding, along with Jay rapping, “Dilla with the capital letters, niggas deliver it good, Dilla just be rapping it better.”
After multiple listens, it isn’t hard to have a new favourite track each time. Automatic standouts include “The Creep (The O)” which guaranteed after the first listen, will have the chorus ringing in your head, “The Shining Pt. 1 (Diamonds)” featuring Kenny Wray and the sample-assisted “So Far” produced by Supa Dave West are notable others.
Even without him physically present to oversee the finishing touches on the LP, The Diary doesn’t sound rushed or sloppily put together, making for pure J Dilla dopeness.