J Dilla – “We F’d Up” (Prod. by Kanye West)
With his too early passing and subsequent elevation to ‘Patron Saint of the Beats’ it’s a complete mystery too many how a fully realised album by J Dilla can still remain unreleased. That’s exactly the case with ‘Pay Jay’ though, Dilla’s solo album recorded for MCA in 2002. Dilla was primarily known for his production but decided to focus on his presence as MC with this record. He did some beats but the majority of the production was handed over to other musicians, among them were ?uestlove, Kariem Riggins, Kanye West, Pete Rock and Supa Dave West. Bootlegs of this album also feature ‘Fuck The Police’, the track Dilla released back then as a 12″ which is still a regular favorite with many DJ’s and one of his most popular solo tracks. Kanye did release one thing from this album: he recycled the bassline sampled from ‘The Doors’ on ‘We F’d Up (ft. Frank ‘n Dank)’ in Jay-Z’s ‘Takeover’. Can’t blame him for that, that bassline is a monster. [Download Pay Jay]
4. Ol’ Dirty Bastard - A Son Unique
ODB – “Intoxicated” (Feat. Method Man, Macy Gray, Raekwon)
ODB – “Pop Shots” (Feat. Lil Fame)
Damon Dash surprised many when he signed the ODB fresh outta rehab/jail to a deal with Rocafella records. The man with no father to his style didn’t turn his back on the Wu though as Rza was on board to produce and Ghostface and Method Man recorded guest verses. So did Clipse, NORE and Joe Budden, non-Wu production was provided by The Neptunes and DJ Premier. Maybe it was ghostwriters (Rhymefest was rumored to be one of them), maybe it was ODB’s nenewed focus, a drive to create something more personal or a combination of those factors, but this sounds like the most coherent release in his catalogue by far. Aside from the awesomely awful or awfully awesome Macy Gray duet covering ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ there’s surprisingly little singing and ranting while still sounding like a real ODB album. It was supposed to be released in november of 2005 to commemmorate the anniversary of his sudden death in Wu-Tang’s recording studio a year earlier. Somehow that still hasn’t happened.
3. Large Professor – The LP
Large Professor – “One Plus” (Feat. Nas)
Large Professor – “For My People”
“Peace, represent, buy the album when I drop it”. Many people would’ve liked to comply with Large Pro’s request at the end of Tribe’s ‘Keep It Rollin’ but never got the chance. What could’ve been a well-remembered gem of 90’s hip-hop and the definite launch of Large Pro’s solo carriere turned out to be a legal battle between artist and label that lasted for years. It eventually came out as a bonus with the first pressing of Large Pro’s debut ‘1st Class’ once he got the rights to The LP in his own hands but suffice to say the momentum was gone. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a well balanced album, it showcases a versality in styles from the mellow Nas-assisted ‘One Plus One’ to the raw sounding ‘Spacey’, the jazzy ‘For My People’ and the Vincent-Price-Thriller-laugh sampling ‘The Mad Scientist’. It’s time has definitley passed as a potential hit record but after all these years it still deserves a decent release on it’s own merits.
2. KMD – Black Bastards
KMD – “Constipated Monkey”
KMD – “Get U Now”
The follow-up to their 1991 debut Mr. Hood had Zev Love X, DJ Subroc and Onyx (the Birthstone Kid) still sounding funky, but a lot darker. The album cover featured a hanging Sambo caricature which didn’t exactly make Elektra Records bounce off the wall with excitement about its commercial prospects. It may not have been the most easily marketable album but there was still trademark KMD humor on tracks like “Constipated Monkey,” hyped posse cut rhyming on “F-ck With Ya Head” and banging production all over by Subroc. Sadly, Subroc didn’t survive a car crash in 1993. That made Elektra definitely loose their nerve in publishing the album and made his brother Zev Love X disappear altogether. He emerged back on the scene years later wearing a mask and calling himself MF Doom. You might’ve heard of him.
1. Q-Tip – Kamaal The Abstract
The man who coined Industry Rule #4080 is far from a stranger to its effects himself. Q-Tip made Tribe fans all over the world collectively scratch their heads with his electronic-tinged solo debut Amplified. But Kamaal wasn’t about to cave in to the pressure of releasing an easy crowdpleaser in 2003. In fact, his second solo-album can barely be described as a hip-ho album. He opens it with a verse followed by a sung chorus but just when you think the second verse is about to start an organ solo kicks in and takes over half of the song. Eventually it gets accompanied by a guitar and then even more singing towards the end. Put on the album with an open mind and you’re treated to an amalgam of jazz, funk, hip-hop, rock and probably some other stuff that not only lets you in on the personal development of an artist but also treats you to some genuine dope music. Review copies were pressed and sent out and critics alternately burned it to the ground or hailed it as a masterpiece. Probably already nervous in regard to the response to Q-Tip’s first solo outing, Arista didn’t know what to do with it and decided to shelve the album. A damn shame, record company people are shady…
[Download Kamaal the Abstract]
Honorable Mentions: Rakim - Oh My God (Aftermath) (There’s no bootleg and practically no one ever heard it, but it’s Rakim on Dre beats); Elzhi – Untitled