J Dilla – The Shining

‘The Shinning’ serves as a splendid documentary of the late Jay Dee who is considered one of the great producers of hip hop. He was consistent and dissatisfied with simply making dope music. Dilla had a talent for spontaneous and engaging beats which served MCs well. His coherent, live instrumentation and breakbeat production style is similar to the socially conscious rap of the ‘golden era of hip hop’. His prevailing focus on soulful music and dynamism instilled durability in his music that has allowed it to survive the shifts that have rocked rap over the years. In other words, good music never goes out of style.

In ‘The Shining’ Dilla demonstrates his willingness to push against the conventions and experiment with tried and tested formulas. Soulful samples, live keyboard, drum workouts as well as the sounds of the 70s and 80s electronica, demonstrate the producer’s versatility. In ‘Geek Down’ Busta Rhymes pays homage to the ‘fucking godfather Dilla’. In the rock-solid stomp ‘E=MC2’ Common drops wholesome party raps between the scratches and drums: “Get up, get up, and rock, and rock/ The humm the humm and knock and knock/ You out the atmosphere/ This rap here something that I felt in the moment/ Of truth, opponents in the booth/ Inspired, is what I write, fire like ‘roof’”

In Pharaohe Monch featured track ‘love’ he showcases his trademark ability to breathe life into soul samples: “its soul music/ Solely for ya soul music/ For it matters how much we all soul music”. Black thought mounts a commanding presence amidst over-lapping click tracks in ‘love movin’: I got a shit load of story tales up in my sack/ So let all the drums and all the noise interact/ Twist up a fat one and make my coffee black/ The Grim Ripper, th-th-the boss is back.”

Dilla’s music is enduringly listenable and is a good showcase of Dilla’s versatility as a producer. It received favorable reviews from music writers with Metacritic giving it a score of 80/100 based on 21 critics.

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