We all adore Dilla. That’s a given. It’s also obvious that you’ll want to fall in love with a new Dilla album even if it’s a posthumous release. I’m not a fan of artists work being released after they died, as you’ll find out.

My perception of this practice is that it’s 33.3% insult to the artist. It almost pre-supposes that others are capable of making the same vital artistic decisions about how this material should be treated. When you’re dealing with an artist like Dilla you really are dealing with an ‘Artist’ in the true sense of the word. His production is ‘art’ and to imagine that anybody other than him could present his work to the same high standards is a little offensive to his memory. It represents a significant and implicit drop in the exceptionally high standard of quality control that Dilla subjected his own work to.

The second 33.3% of this practice is purely trying to please all of us that hang on every Dilla’s every chop and loop. We’re human and as such we will always want more of a good thing and a Dilla album is one of the best things that life has to offer. We should probably remind ourselves that you can have too much of a good thing.

The last 33.3% of my feelings about posthumous releases is attributed to my suspicions that somebody needs to make all the money that they can from an artist. This makes me feel really uncomfortable about any of these releases.

If you bare those factors in mind you can imagine the confusing mixture of delight, trepidation and scepticism that I approached this album with. I really, truly came to ‘Rebirth Of Detroit’ ready to fall in love with it. I don’t think I ever could though.

The first thing to note is that this album is smothered in vocals. That’s no bad thing in and of itself. However, I think it may have been a necessity with this album. These are not the best of Dilla’s beats. I suspect they probably wouldn’t have been strong enough to stand on their own without a vocal track to hold their syncopated hands. It’s almost as if these are the bits of dough that fell off in the fryer and were left behind when the Donuts got lifted out.

Overall the production is of a high standard but it falls victim to Dilla’s monumental previous achievements. You and I want a fresh new box of Donuts and this is most certainly not that. There are a few stand out moments that nearly reach the hair rising heights you expect from a Dilla album. ‘Requiem’ is a lovely melancholic jazz number, ‘My Victory’ is a soulful slice of trad-Dilla, ‘DILLATROIT’ is a gorgeous mix of choppy drums and urgent strings, ‘Do It For Dilla Dawg’ is busy and has a nice chopped vocal sample and the final track ‘The Best That Ever Did It’ is straight up Dilla. Aside from those tracks though it’s a struggle to pick out anything that reaches the level that we so desperately desire.

[wpaudio url=”http://d2jos65913uaef.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/17-Do-It-For-Dilla-Dawg.mp3″ text=”J Dilla – Do It For Dilla Dawg (ft. Illa J & Frank Nitt)” dl=”0″]

Some people might think it was an unusual choice to not go for an all-star cast of vocalists but I think it’s perfectly acceptable to use local, Detroit talent. I have to be honest that nobody set my mind alight. These are all solid performances but not stellar.

It’s a Dilla album. I love Dilla because of his production skills. If you put your voice between me and the opportunity to absorb every nano-second of every sound he commits to record then we’re probably starting off on the wrong foot. If you insist on placing yourself in that position then you had better be doing something on par or better with what Dilla is doing (I’m a hard task master, right?). If you’re not hitting par then you’re just getting in the way. These guys are not hitting off scratch.

You’re probably going to listen to this no matter what I say. I know I would and to be honest I’d recommend that you do listen to it. I’m still not ruling out the possibility that this is going to slowly creep into my psyche and take root. It’s difficult to work out whether I’m giving this more of a chance because of who it is or if the work itself is demanding that I play it again. I guess only time will tell on that score. Remember though that even on an average day Dilla is still a cut above most beatstrels. Just don’t hope for more Donuts. That was a one time deal.

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