J Dilla' one of a handful of names James Yancey is known by' is not a producer with the name recognition of a Pharrell, Kanye or Timbaland, but within the hip-hop community, his breathtaking beats have earned him the respect of the movers and shakers; look no further than The Roots' latest, "Game Theory," whose eerie first track, "Dilltastic Vol Won(derful)," is a tip of the hat to Dilla. Indeed, the love doesn't stop there: Roots drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson penned the poignant liner notes for this posthumous release " Yancey passed away earlier this year from Lupus-related complications.
This disc, along with the dizzying "Donuts," stands as a towering memorial to one of hip-hop's lesser-known icons. With guest shots from Busta Rhymes, Common and more, "The Shining" is likely one of the only rap albums to drop this year that will make a kazoo sample feel like an impending apocalypse. An essential, futuristic work that makes you miss the genius responsible all the more.
- Preston Jones