20 Albums of 2010- Suite for Ma Dukes

It wouldn’t be much of a hyperbole to say this album towered over every other purchase in 2010 like erykah badu’s afro-wrap.

It’s concept couldn’t be any more enticing: the late and revered hip hop producer J Dilla’s works arranged for a 60 (!) piece orchestra. That’s like Flying Lotus recreating rite of spring. Really. I’m not even exaggerating a little bit.

This had no reason to work as well as it does; I dunno, I’m so used to these kind of projects looking like fried rice with some next level chicken with rainbow fruit salad on the side but tasting like tesco brand oatmeal. Mixed with two day old olive brine. In fish stew. Which is alright I guess but I hate fish.

Any to the ways thankfully composer Miguel Atwood Ferguson doesn’t fire blanks, and J Dilla’s finest compositions make the transition to classical form with renewed freshness, heart and a gorilla’s weight in swagger.

Almost flawless, there are no weak links from start to finish,  (although hoc n pucky, below, is definite favourite), sometimes a burst of blissful head-nodding bliss, sometimes deliciously melancholic- the solo piano in ‘Le Yachting’ makes me think of  a love story set to dance- sometimes like you’re listening to the score of a black superhero movie made in the seventies directed by Spike Lee. (Hoc n pucky, again)

Singers Bilal and Dwele and rapper Talib Kweli reprise their roles on productions they’d done with Dilla, hich lends the project an  authentic warmth(Where’s Erykah, you may ask). Best you buy the DVD/CD combo and watch that, then join me in petitioning Southbank to book them.

When Dilla died, I hardly knew him. Sure, I got Slum Village albums and the rest but never read the sleeves or joined the dots leading to him. He was an unknown to me, like Nicki Minaj’s and Drakes ghost writer (Jokes!) When all them ‘collections in honor’ started coming out I grew  weary, quick time, like a Martin Luther King fan wandering why everyone was so fussed about the ‘X’ guy. This is the only project dedicated to the man I’ve heard that’s made me appreciate him, and as far as I know the only decent hip hop/classical crossover ever. Sorry, Late Orchestration.

PS: Doctors Orders are hosting JDilla Nights to celebrate his anniversary. Big things like this are more than your sunday deserves, so thank the lord at noon, but on your hip hop shoes and click here.


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