Jay Dee’s Ma Dukes Collection
Yancey Media Group/LLC/Official Ma Dukes
J Dilla died 10 years ago. Aged just 32. He had released a handful of hip-hop masterpieces, some under his own name, many in assisting others. Since his passing there’s been no shortage of Dilla beats, mostly thanks – in dubious tones – to Ma Dukes, his mother, rivalling the Hendrix estate and Jeff Buckley’s mum in the “gotsta get paid” stakes…It’s usually bittersweet, a wee reminder of that prodigious talent comes with the reminder he’s no longer around and the whole thing is a money-maker as much as it’s ever in his honour.
Recent compilations have gone wayward with the raps taking centre-stage over the beats. Not this time. Here with a brand new instrumental collection (that dropped just before Christmas) it’s all about that ice-cool charm of Dilla, further stripped back than Donuts (no samples, no fully built songs this is about sketches in rhythm – mostly just drums and a few soft, thoughtful piano chords).
I’m sure I’ve heard some of this music before – there’s no information to explain what is “brand new” and what’s recycled. Obviously when you’re dealing with a prolific, influential beatmaker there are familiar motifs and regurgitated ideas. And so it is. But charmingly so.
This plays through – just on the half-hour, all instrumental pieces, all ‘songs’ that are titled by a set of numbers; fragments dragged from the vault – but it has a perfect summery background feel to it. One of the best posthumous releases from the Dilla estate. My favourite, easily. Because even through any overt cash-grabbing here you hear the sound of the man, the sound of his soul, the beat of his heart.