J Dilla, 'Jay Stay Paid' (Nature Sounds)

Critical Mass
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by Mosi Reeves

After his death at age 32, in 2006, James Yancey's catalog remains fodder for bootlegs, reissues, and retrospectives. Jay Stay Paid offers unreleased material, the official imprimatur of Dilla's mother, Maureen "Ma Dukes" Yancey, and music supervisor Pete Rock, who sequences 28 beats into a synth-heavy, rhythm-and-gangsta vibe, inviting old friends (Doom, Phat Kat) and new jacks (Diz Gibran) to add hot verses. With peaks (Black Thought's raging "Reality Check") and valleys (Blu's too blunted "Smoke"), Stay Paid is patchwork, but Dilla's brilliance remains stunningly apparent.

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