Monday, April 10, 2006

Stapleton's Finest: In The Purist Form

Fishscale is the best Ghostface since Supreme Clientele. While I don't think it boasts better overall production than the latter, I do think that his choice of tracks to smash his verses over for Fishscale put him at the top of 2006's best albums list. Notables:

"The Champ" - Prod. Just Blaze
"R.A.G.U." - Prod. Pete Rock
"Be Easy" - Prod. Pete Rock
"Barber Shop" - The Studio Beatz

Pete Rock is definitely re-emerging thanks to his contributions to Fishscale (although "The Dogs of War" is kind of stale). The J-Dilla tracks "Beauty Jackson" and "Whip You With A Strap" were good but not great. Same for the 4-5 MF Doom tracks on the album. "Be Easy" was a fantastic first single for the album and it's a shame Def Jam didn't do a better job in promoting that single with a video. Not surprising that "Back Like That" feat. Def Jam's R&B crooner Ne-Yo was pushed with more vigor. Regardless, Fishscale is fishscale.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Dilla Does It Right

It took a while to compile my favorite Jay Dee treats but it takes a dedicated ear to really absorb his music. In doing so, I've come to appreciate his approach to pasting sounds together to create some of the most soulful, expansive, sparse, emotive and crunchiest beats this side of the cosmos. I just picked up Scratch Magazine in which the Legendary Roots Crew grace the cover with a tribute to Dilla Dog. I didn't really get much from the last interview Jay Dee did but his music speaks for itself. Here's my playlist of Detroit's finest. He didn't do the beats for all the tracks I've listed. He wasn't too shabby on the mic either.

1. Welcome To Detroit: Jay Dee- It has to be the intro to any Dilla mix. Absolutely has to...

2. The Mission: Jaylib- My favorite track from the collabo album with Madlib. Madlib's track is amazing. His cuts on this play out like those MC's actually came in and laid down the vocals. Dilla kills it too. "Who says producers ain't suppose to rap..."

3. Heat: Common- Common never sounded better or hungrier. How did Jay do that with the drums? + the bass line will clear that earwax build-up, trust me.

4. Runnin': The Pharcyde - It's the first track I ever heard from Jay Dee. The piano loop is mesmerizing.

5. Busta's Lament: A Tribe Called Quest - Truthfully, The Love Movement was a hard pill to swallow. I don't know, maybe it's too musical or too far ahead for me to understand. Regardless, this track is THE standout on that album. It just feels too good, like a breezy spring afternoon.

6. Enjoy The Ride: Busta Rhymes - Speaking of Busta's laments, this is my all-time favorite of the Busta catalog and it's only because Dilla did the track. It's so good it's surreal.

7. Soul Power: Common - I still don't know how I feel about Electric Circus but this Jay Dee jewel doesn't sound like the usual soulful stuff he does for Common. The drums don't crack but it's eerily put together and good enough to hook your ear on. It also boasts one of my favorite punchlines with "the nympho of info I'm fuckin' what ya heard"...

8. Niggas Know: Pete Rock & J-Dilla - It's not the best off of PR's Soul Survivor II (which was kind of dry). It's simple and sparse with a wicked bassline. Dilla didn't produce this one but his verse and delivery doesn't disappoint like Pete's album.

9. Reminisce: Bilal feat. Mos Def & Common - How did he get the bassline to come off like it's hovering above the flux like that?

10. Nag Champa (Afrodisiac For The World): Common - As you can see, Dilla did some of his finest work for Com. This song comes in a close second to Ressurection as my all time favorite tune from Common. The words and music fit perfectly and because that's so rare it's why this song is so good. Jay Dee just got it right with this track and it's a perfect outro for any Jay Dee mix.