Don’t pit this against Ruff Draft or Donuts – it’s not fair.
Artwork by Henry Mangelsdorf
This is not Donuts. A posthumous release from the J.Dilla camp, Dillatronic is a 41 track sonic ride featuring all-new unreleased material from the undisputed messiah of underground hip-hop production. So why did I start this review off with a statement like this ain’t Donuts? Well, it isn’t. Donuts was a cohesive project, which had Dilla’s stank all over it, beyond the beats themselves, and into the actual arrangement and ora of the seminal example of what a beat tape should be. Dillatronic was produced by Dilla, there’s no argument there, but it lacks the same emotional punch that his earlier work had.
It’s better to approach this work for what it is, though – a beat tape. Had you chosen to purchase one of these beats, Dilla would have refined it for you likely – or in the case of the 30 and 60 second loops, finished it. Much like a notebook full of 2Pac’s scribbled lyrics and ideas, or old parchments that contain sketches by Leonardo DaVinci, Dillatronic is a collection of sonic sketches and ideas. They likely evolved into some of his more memorable pieces, or died at the cutting table and remained nothing more than a lost loop on an MPC formatted floppy sitting in a storage facility. It does have clearly brilliant stuff here! As I’m writing, I’m listening to the heavy vibrating bass of Dillatronic 29. Dillatronic 05, 12, 12, 17, 20-21, 32-33 and 41 are also must-listens. This is a tape that any and all MC’s need to bump and write to – and Dilla-fanatics need to add to their collection.
Don’t pit this against Ruff Draft or Donuts – it’s not fair. this is an unearthed collection of Dilla beats that are perfect for a midnight ride through the city on a sticky summer evening. RIP to the greatest.