I had always wondered what the big fuss was about J Dilla. I checked out Donuts at one point, and thought that while some of it was good (songs like Workinonit and Airworks), quite a lot of it was sketchy and uneven, including the handfuls of songs that basically just play some old soul tracks all the way through, not even really chopping them up or anything. However…
However, lucky for me, the powers that be just released two amazing J Dilla compilations, Dillanthology Vol 1 and Jay Stay Paid. Basically, the songs on these albums are like 1000 times better than on Donuts, and I can now see why people list J Dilla as like a top three producer. I think so too, he is now one of my favorite musicians ever.
The songs on Dillanthology Vol 1 and Jay Stay Paid will appeal to fans not just of hip hop but indie rock, electronic music, prog rock, psychadelic rock, etc (he loved the prog rock, psych rock, and moogy analog synth samples). The way he arranges his drums, samples, bass parts, synths, etc is totally creative and musically awesome–you can see what a far-reaching musician J Dilla really is/was, how many great ideas he had, his wide array of influences, how much he cared/how much work he put into his music. Really good stuff.
So, thanks record labels for giving J Dilla these great posthumous releases that give us a wide overview of the best of J Dilla’s vast creative output. They should put a footnote on albums like Donuts saying that they are just leftovers/filler/sketches (should have named it Ruff Draft 2?), and to look first to the real meat of his work on compilations like Dillanthology Vol 1
and Jay Stay Paid. Highly recommended.
J Dilla–Nothing Like This (off of the Ruff Draft album)