"Jay Stay Paid" by J Dilla

J Dilla
Jay Stay Paid

Nature Sounds
2009

Review

I was really upset the day I heard that Jay Dilla had passed. The thing that made it even more difficult is that not that many people really knew who I was taking about when I mentioned it to them. Well, nobody save for those few Hip-Hop head friends of mine. I remember when I first heard Slum Village. It was for Tribe's series of farewell shows. It was a moment like what J-Live talked about on his track "Hush The Crowd". Everyone there was eager to see Tribe and so the room was downright hostile. Then there was a moment when everyone was like, "Yo, this is dope" and the room suddenly changed.

Flash forward years later and Dilla is legendary and I own every Dilla album that I could get my hands on. It's hard to even write about legends, because how can you really do them justice? I'm just a fan of Hip-Hop music who respects the work the man put out. Naturally, there was some trepidation about buying a posthumous album like "Jay Stay Paid", having been burned by too many Tupac and Biggie tributes. But I read that the album was put together by Pete Rock and Dilla's mom from work directly out of Dilla's archives, so that put my mind at ease. Thankfully most of the album consists of instrumental tracks in the vein of "Donuts". I am proud to say that this album is by no means a simple cashing in and collecting off of the name of a great artist no longer with us.

The fact that the album consists of mostly instrumentals is huge because for the most part the tracks with guest spots tend to be a bit underwhelming save for Blackthought's appearance on the ill track "Reality TV", MOP's guest spot on "Bloodsport", and (surprisingly) Jay's brother Illa J's appearance on the "See That Boy Fly". From my perspective, every other guest spot is just so-so (I really wish that "Dilla Bot Vs. The Hybrid" was just an instrumental and though "Make It Fast" is amazing musically, I could have really done without the MC) and in fact it is the beats themselves that save the tracks with MC guest spots on them (proving yet again how great production can elevate the average MC or the cashing a check MC).

The tracks here are on the short side (something that fans of "Donuts" should be used to) but really the instrumental side of the album is just ridiculous beat after ridiculous beat. Dilla has a sound that is just so much his own and yet each track has its own distinct sound. Peep the heavily ominous electronic sounds from "CaDILLAc" and compare that to the simple and addictive loop and "Beatles-ish sample" on "Reality TV" and again with the scratches, soul hook, and playful Piano of "10,000 Watts"; you can always tell that it was Dilla who put the track together, but nothing sounds exactly the same.

For fans of Dilla, all I need to say to make their minds up about the album is "28 tracks - most of which are just instrumentals - of Dilla beats." For everyone else, this album is not a cohesive work and as such I would recommend "Donuts" to instrumental Hip-Hop fans over this album. Then, and only then, if you love what that album has to offer and are looking for more, short, amazing Hip-Hop beats, I'd say to come back to this one.

...but for fans of Dilla like myself, this album is a must have and - spotty guest spots aside - does not disapoint.

4.269 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. KJay FM Dedication (00:56)
2. King (01:27) 4
3. I Told Yall (02:48) 3
4. Lazer Gunne Funke (01:21) 4
5. In the Night / While You Slept (I Crept) (01:59) 3
6. Smoke (feat. Blu) (02:08) 4
7. Blood Sport (feat. Lil Fame) (02:57) 5
8. CaDILLAc (02:00) 5
9. Expensive Whip (01:25) 5
10. Kaklow (Jump on It) (00:55) 4
11. Digi Dirt (feat. Phat Kat) (00:54) 4
12. Dilla Bot vs. The Hybrid (feat. Danny Brown) (02:24) 4
13. Milk Money (01:27) 4
14. Spacecowboy vs. Bobble Head (02:37) 3
15. Reality TV (feat. Black Thought) (02:40) 5
16. On Stilts (01:26) 4
17. Fire Wood Drumstix (feat. DOOM) (01:31) 4
18. Glamour Sho75 (09) (03:01) 5
19. 10,000 Watts (01:41) 5
20. 9th Caller (01:52) 4
21. Make It Fast (Unadulterated mix) (feat. Diz Gibran) (05:00) 5
22. 24K Rap (feat. Havoc & Raekwon) (04:21) 4
23. Big City (01:01) 5
24. Pay Day (feat. Frank Nitty) (01:25) 4
25. See That Boy Fly (feat. Illa J & Cue D) (03:43) 5
26. Coming Back (01:12) 4
27. Mythsysizer (01:44) 5
28. KJay and We Out (01:57)