I’ll start by talking about De La Soul. These three individuals are essentially hip hop royalty, following their debut album, 3 Feet High And Rising, which was recognised as a masterpiece almost immediately, due to the iconic and groundbreaking style of the group. Since then the group have gone on to achieve a lot together, appearing all over the place, such as Feel Good Inc. By the Gorillaz, as well as Superfast Jellyfish on their latest album, and a remix of Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip’s Thou Shalt Always Kill. The group have influenced countless artists in their time, including the likes of The Black Eyed Peas and Mos Def. They are truly one of the most iconic groups of our time.
Then there’s J Dilla. He was one of the greatest and most influential hip hop artists to ever grace the scene. His legacy is difficult to avoid, with even the likes of Disclosure citing him as one of their very biggest influences when starting to create their own music. Unfortunately, in 2006, he died of a blood disease aged 32, and therefore this mixtape is a tribute to the artist. It is formed of De La Soul rapping over J Dilla’s production, tracks he formed before his premature death. The result is simply breathtaking.
I honestly fail to see how this could be much better. The tape manages to find the perfect balance between two of the biggest names in music, to be blunt. The mixtape finds the perfect equilibrium point between the two, and the result is staggering. It was always going to be fantastic but, in my opinion, this is a classic, a real tribute to J Dilla.
Let The King Ascend opens slowly. It tells the listener exactly what is to come, with incredible production and the iconic voices of De La Soul, flowing flawlessly into Who, which also features the Wu Tang legend Redman. The bass is strong, with the De La flow adding the flavour of the track. You really need very good headphones for this track, as the subtlety could be very easily missed. Dilla Plugged In is a bit lighter in mood, a little happier. The feeling here is much more relaxed, and the flow is once again impeccable. Classic De La Soul. Goes With The Word has the most perfect hip hop beat, which soulful and almost mystical undercurrents flowing throughout. It is the kind of track you can afford to simply lose yourself in. The bass at the start of Vocabulary Spills really grabs the attention of the listener. J Dilla really goes all out on this track, matching the sheer talent of each individual member of De La Soul. Honestly, compare something like this to the kind of things released by the rap groups of today, like Travis Porter. I know which I prefer. Again bass has the first word in The Pitch. The beat is a little slower here, another song to simply disappear into, this mixtape forms a world of its own. Taking The Train is simply another track which tells us exactly why the artists involved in this project are outliers in their field. The beat does actually resemble the movements of a train. Leave Your Cares Behind is, as the name suggest, very careless and light. It is the kind of song which demands a music video featuring lots of people enjoying themselves on a beach or at a festival, with lots of sun, in a place far nicer than England. O’ Shut Up features a nod back to Oodles Of O’s, much as Who features many nods back to Ooh. Once again, the track is essentially flawless. No More No Less has a far more experimental production. The result is that the track is far more trippy and unusual, which is no bad thing. The final track, Marvin Jaye, features the incredible voice of the man himself, Marvin Gaye. The drum beat is a loud and noisy, which separates the track from the usual sex-orientated tracks which involve essentially very slow and slimy production, in the likes of Usher, giving the track a greater character, in my opinion. (Don’t get me wrong, some sex-songs are great, but most aren’t). The track is a solid conclusion to a very nearly perfect mixtape.