James Yancey, who had inaugurated his "alternative" career with the EP
Ruff Draft (2002 - Stones Throw, 2007) under the moniker J Dilla,
upped the ante of
samples-based (and schizophrenically fragmented) hip-hop with
Donuts (2006), credited to both his nicknames J Dilla and Jay Dee.
This cauldron of 31 brief audio skits (that rarely exceed the two-minute mark)
sounds like a mash-up of soul, easy-listening and soft jazz of the 1970s.
fragments of lost vocal hits (Light My Fire, Two Can Win),
hypnotic psychedelic loops (Waves, People),
catchy instrumental jams (The Diff'rence),
even a martial hard-rock riff (Walkinonit)
and a great satire of industrial music (Da Factory),
sociological parodies of commercials (Lightworks) and of mass hysteria (The Twister, one the surreal peaks),
Yancey paint a vast fresco of the consumer society,
a sort of digital version of what Frank Zappa
used to do in the 1970s.
Where it works, the project is a triumph of a phantasmagoria. Unfortunately,
half of the album could have been trimmed away.
The Shining (2006) was, instead, based on vocals and on live instrumentation.
Yancey died at 32 in 2006.
Jay Stay Paid (Nature Sounds, 2009) is a posthumous compilation of unreleased material.
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