Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rapaholic™ Presents: Illa J - Yancey Boys

After the passing of his brother, Detroit producer/MC Jay DeeIlla J(born John Yancey) dropped out of Central Michigan University, put aside his inhibitions, and stepped out as an MC and producer. Previously apprehensive about living up to the genius-level standard set by his elder sibling, Illa J became visible outside his local circle through the video for his brother's "Won't Do" -- where he was shown lip-syncing the rhymes -- as well as the Dilla Changed My Life tour, which allowed him to perform for Dilla admirers across the globe. He then got into recording, collaborating with the likes of Karriem RigginsGuilty SimpsonBlack Milk, and Little Brother's Big Pooh. A self-released EP was issued in 2007, featuring self-productions, with the exception of one track ("Me and My Brother") produced by Jay Dee.
The title of rapper/singer Illa J's debut album refers to the man himself along with his older brother J Dilla, aka Jay Dee, the game-changing hip-hop producer from Detroit who passed away in 2006 at the age of 32. The beats on Yancey Boys are "all previously untouched Jay Dee gems" that were given to Illa J by Delicious Vinyl's founder, Michael Ross. Safe to say, the younger Yancey's first encounter with these tracks had to bring a heavy set of emotions, but with everything here being immediately recognizable as Dilla, the end result for the longtime fan is still one of ghosts and bittersweet memories. Nocturnal keyboards, elegant pianos, lazy beats, and the occasional Kraftwerk-like twist all combine to make warm soul music, but save the D'Angelo-like "We Here" and the more hip-hop highlight "DFTF," those final Dilla touches are missing, as they were on all those sketchbook-like bootleg beat tapes that have appeared since the man's passing. The younger Yancey's contributions are unsurprising lyrics that sing the praises of chilling or soul searching by wandering in circles. Worst of the latter is the perhaps ironically titled "Timeless," which kicks off the uncertain album with "I spent so much time living inside the bubble/I just wanna lay back and stay outta trouble/I think its time for me to break out of the shell/And I can't be afraid to fail." To his credit, his heavy workload includes putting the finishing touches on these lost tracks and figuring out how to pay tribute to his older brother while pimping his own potential. His solution is so understated and mellow that Yancey Boys ends up an interesting release for the Dilla faithful instead of Illa J's grand entrance.

1. Timeless
2. We Here
3. R U Listenin’? feat. Guilty Simpson
4. Alien Family by Frank Nitty
5. Strugglin
6. Showtime
7. Swagger
8. Mr. Shakes (Skit) aka Affion Crockett
9. DFTF feat. Affion Crockett
10. All Good
11. Sounds Like Love feat. Debi Nova
12. Everytime
13. Illasoul
14. Air Signs

Download (RS Link)
Download (MU LInk)