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J Dilla, Jay Stay Paid (Nature Sounds)

June 8, 2009
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The legend lives on
Not just another collection of lost material, Jay Stay Paid is a thoughtfully orchestrated album showcasing unreleased beats from the late Detroit hip-hop great J Dilla. Sure, much of the producer/MC''s old work has already been used after his passing in projects by Busta Rhymes and his little brother, Illa J. But with the initiative of his mom (Maureen Yancey), one of Dilla''s biggest influences, beatsmith Pete Rock was granted access to a stockpile of chopped-up Dilla gems found on DATs for this album, and he digs through them with diligence.

With this album playing out like a Dilla radio show featuring the discerning Pete Rock as the selector, not so surprisingly there aren''t any subpar tracks to be found. Still some of these 25-plus beats are slightly superior. Take “Lazer Gunne Funk” with its punchy synth stabs and percussive claps, or the quirky, sample-leaning sounds of “On Stilts.” With these selections alone, both the hardcore and playful angles of his production are well documented. And most of the tracks featuring MCs (for example, Phat Kat, Black Thought) rhyming over these previously unused beats remain fresh, too, and prove that Dilla held the respect of many. [4 out of 5 stars]

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