The Soul of Detroit Hip-Hop Bows Out Soulfully


Even the most casual of hip-hop fans has been moved by his sound—those staggeringly rounded kicks and unpredictable snares that defined the sound of a decade, permeating neighborhood barbershops and drop-tops as heads nodded in unison to De La, Common, the Pharcyde, Tribe. To the fanatic, Dilla is eponymous to the sort of off-kilter ingenuity that lets us all dig down and have faith in rap again. So it’s no surprise that J Dilla’s latest (and last), The Shining, arrives amid a deluge of posthumous praise for Detroit’s most inspired beatsmith, who died February 7 of kidney failure. But Dilla’s is a sound born of diligence, not hype, and his efforts on The Shining complete the legacy of his impressive body of work. Guest appearances by Pharoahe Monch, Busta Rhymes, J. Rocc, Common, and Black Thought fill out Dilla’s textured rhythms, enabling one of the most soulful productions in the Detroit hip-hop canon.