Rolling Stone caught a preview of Jay Stay Paid, the fifth solo album from celebrated hip-hop producer J Dilla and possibly the best posthumous rap record since the final releases of 2Pac and Biggie. The Detroit beatmaker, who passed away in 2006, had his hard-drives and beat tapes raided by producer Pete Rock and his mother, Maureen Yancey. According to a representative of his record label, Nature Sounds, the material spans the eight-year period between the sessions for A Tribe Called Quest's final album in 1998 to material written in hospital stays during the last months of his life.
The beats picked by Mr. Rock and Mrs. Yancey swing towards the heavier, more neckbreaking side of Dilla — distorted organs, morse code pianos, sucker-punching bass thwacks and impossibly snappy snares. Smoother than 2006's Donuts, but far less melancholy than its follow-up, The Shining, the new Jay Stay Paid rattles along with gnarly grooves made up of metallic clacking, Moroder-style synths and busy chimes. On first listen, one track appeared to be constructed from pieces of David Essex's 1974 hit "Rock On."
Pete Rock, one of Dilla's heros, extended some of ideas found on his computers and tapes, turning one-minute germs into fleshed-out songs. Other songs remain dirty, complete with the sirens and vocal drops of his internet-traded beat compilations. Far from a Biggie Duets-style cash-in, the only rappers adding their voices are rappers that Dilla either loved and/or collaborated with: Lil Fame of M.O.P., Havoc of Mobb Deep, Raekwon, DOOM, Dilla's younger brother Illa J and Black Thought of the Roots whose "Reality Check" builds a spirited anti-TV rant around a cluster of reality show titles.
Jay Stay Paid track list:
"KJay FM Dedication"
"I Told Yall"
"Lazer Gunne Funke"
"In the Night (Owl N Out) - While You Slept (I Crept)"
"Smoke" ft. Blu
"Blood Sport" ft. Lil Fame of M.O.P.
"Kaklow (Jump On It)"
"Digi Dirt" ft. Phat Kat
"Dilla Bot Vs. the Hybrid" ft. Danny Brown and Constantine
"Spacecowboy Vs. Bobble Head"
"Reality Check" ft. Black Thought "On Stilts"
"Fire Wood Drumstix" ft. DOOM
"Glamour Sho75 (09)"
"Make It Fast (Unadulterated Mix)" ft. Diz Gibran
"24K Rap" ft. Havoc of Mobb Deep and Raekwon
"Pay Day" ft. Frank Nitty of Frank N' Dank
"See That Boy Fly" ft. Illa J and Cue D
"KJay and We Out"