01. The New Installment
02. Detroit Madness With Phat Kat
03. Big Thangs With Esham
04. Ride With It With Tha Almighty Dreadnaughtz
05. Say My Name With Lapeace, Moe Dirdee and Seven The General
06. Detroit Game With Chuck Inglish (Cool Kids) and Boldy James
07. Feel This Shit With Ketchphraze
08. City Of Boom With Loe Louis and Beej
09. Let’s Pray Together With Amp Fiddler
10. Requiem With Allan Barnes (Blackbyrds)
11. Do It Right With Fat Ray, Vstylez and Soul Man (A.W.O.L.)
12. My Victory With Boldy James
13. Rebirth Is Necessary With Tone Plummer and Mr. Wrong
14. DILLATROIT With Supa Emcee, Nick Speed and Guilty Simpson
15. Center Of The Movement With 5ELA (Hook By Pierre Anthony)
16. Pitfalls With Fat Ray, Lapeace and Loe Louis
17. Do It For Dilla Dawg With Illa J and Frank Nitt (Cake Boys)
18. Jay Dee’s Revenge With Danny Brown (Cuts By D.J. Dez)
19. Motor City Sparks With Corey Sparks and Beej
20. House Shoes Was Spinnin With Quelle Chris
21. The Best That Ever Did It With Jon C and Allan Barnes On Saxophone (The Blackbyrds)
This album was released today, and I just wanted to take a brief moment to address it because Dilla was, is, and forever will be an enormous part of my soul and identity as a person. However, I'm kind of unsure as to where to begin with my own feelings of this mediocrity because I held no hopes of this being anything but a money-making venture by the late Dilla's mother, Maureen Yancey. Affectionately known as "Ma Dukes", Maureen has been vocal about wanting to use Dilla's estate and musical identity as a means of furthering her desire to start philanthropic programs in Detroit that give kids the opportunity to make music and better themselves. Until recently she has been unable to pursue these programs due to the conflicts that Dilla's will created in terms of ownership of his music and image, a subject that has been controversial and examined a hundred times over by his friends and family. I'll refrain from getting into it now, but this album is the result of Ma and her associates finally winning the right to release and promote her son's music through the J Dilla Estate. What results is, of course, an abomination and affront to everything Dilla stood for.
Now I can see the irony of a simple fan like me claiming that Maureen is taking advantage of her son's name to make a few bucks, but the fact remains that Dilla's family was in dire straits at the time of his death. His medical bills and child support debts were adding up, and shortly after his passing Maureen was evicted from the house that she raised Dilla in. But I don't really care about irony.
I absolutely loathe this album, as it represents yet another bastardization of one of music's greatest gifts to mankind. Dilla is known for his precise and exacting approach to his music, and his dedication to perfection is legendary in the industry. It paved the way for scores of producers, rappers, and engineers to reexamine the way they see musical production and recording techniques. So when something like this is released as a "Dilla" album, I can't help but be sickened. This is a disgrace, plain and simple. The artists featured over Dilla's beats, which are so heavily edited and cluttered that they lose their identity and soul completely, are awful. Corey Sparks? Chuck Inglish? Danny fucking Brown? Really? It's bullshit. It's atrocious. It's heretical to everything Dilla fans have come to love about the greatest producer to ever live. You'd think that some of his closest friends (Tip, Busta, Common, MADLIB for pete's sake) would have been invited to contribute. You'd think that his contemporaries in the production game (Large Pro, Premier, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder) would have been involved in at least some way to curate this. But no, what we have is a two-bit orgy of Detroit promotion with a host of no talent backpack rappers. Make no mistake; this is the kind of music that pseudo-Dilla fans enjoy because it's easy, it's commercial, and it has no depth or difficulty whatsoever. What begins as an attempt to showcase the "talents" of Detroit to save the reputation of a once strong hip hop community devolves into recorded proof that those talents are no longer present. That the Detroit of old is forever and irrevocably lost is obvious, and the hopes that the old guard have in rejuvenating it are so bafflingly misplaced in these mediocre swag-heads is disheartening.
Realistically, please do not get the impression that I am angry or disappointed. I knew full well that this album would be a trainwreck, and that anyone with a real respect and understanding of Dilla would never think to include it within the canon of his work. I am simply putting down in words what any right-minded hip hop fan should think when they listen to this. I'll include no videos or songs from this album so as not to give the false appearance that they have merit. They are not Dilla's work, they are the mainstream bandwagon fan's belief of what Dilla was. If you're interested in hearing the beats, chances are you've already heard them somewhere before. There is little to no new material on this album that couldn't be found if you did a little digging in the crates. Which is, after all, what Dilla would've wanted.