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Feb032011

Review: The Roots - Dilla Joints

 


(released April 4th, 2010)


If you needed any real indication that The Roots were
undoubtedly the hardest working hip-hop band, their
output over this past year should’ve proven that in spades.
Being the official house band for ‘Late Night with Jimmy
Fallon’ hasn’t slowed them down one bit, to the point where
they released FOUR albums. Let that marinate for a second,
and add this to the pot: outside of mixtapes, who else had
that same level of production? Sadly, this album got a few
moments of glory upon its release, overshadowed by the
impending albums by Little Brother and Nas and Damian
Marley’s efforts. It’s all the more astounding when you sit
and break down ‘Dilla Joints’ in its entirety.

The album itself is a tribute to the late great James ‘J Dilla’
Yancey, a close friend and collaborator. From Questlove’s
opening vocals on the first track, ‘Donuts Outro’ you get this
real studio feeling, almost like you’re sitting in on one of those
famous jazz sessions that took place at Atlantic Records. Each
track on this album is, in a word, lush. The instrumentals each
have this richness that envelops you with each note, one song
more notable than the next but all of them blending together
beautifully enough to let you hit play on your iPod and stroll,
jog or whatever else you might want to do in a mellow mood.

‘Hot S**t(I’m Back)’ is a hard-driving funky tune, something
that would’ve stood tall on any Blaxploitation soundtrack if
composed in the 1970’s. The drum work alone is classic Questlove,
supported with light accents of bass guitar. ‘Stereolab’ is arguably
the best track here, no mean feat. The song is both a soothing
mixture of subdued melancholy and reflective hope. It makes
you wonder if this tune came to mind the moment they heard of
Dilla’s passing, especially with the almost Benedictine monk-like
vocals at the end. ‘Make Em NV’ is another standout track, full of
chimes and Detroit style drum beat funk reminiscent of Dilla’s work
with Slum Village. And if you don’t nod your head to the upbeat
rhythm of ‘Hall & Oates’, you may be suffering from pop culture
rap overload. If there is a flaw to be had on this album, ‘Stars’
would be it if only because it seemed a bit too convoluted in
composition in comparison to the other songs. All in all though,
‘Dilla Joints’ is a great ode to a great producer and yet another
feather in the cap of Illadelph’s finest.

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