As rap has grown, sampling has become an increasingly less viable option for producers. Yes, as long as you don't plan on making any money, you don't really have to watch what you sample. But record companies are wise to the game these days, and many employ seriously knowedgable crate-diggers to scan new releases for uncleared samples. Once you blow up, you run the risk of getting slapped with copyright infringement faster than, um, the beat from B.O.B. So, these days, all your favorite beat-makers probably use some kind of instrument in or over their track, each with a different approach. Dre's got his Triton. The Roots make their own damn samples. RZA runs some live instruments through a cassette first to make them sound vintage.
I don't even know about Jay Dee. Sometimes he's got samples, sometimes he's got an organ lick that sounds like a sample, sometimes he's got a sample you can't believe was actually a sample and sometimes you just don't worry about it and bob yer head. That last case is most prevalent on "Fantastic Vol. 2." It took me a while to get to like Jay Dee, but the beats on this album hold it together. Jay's beats are all pretty similar--sometimes this leads to monotony, but here they give the album a sense of continuity. The whole album just flows, and you don't really notice when the songs change, but before you know it, you're on track 17 of 20 and you're wondering where the time went.
Actually, the lyrics work that way too--extremely monotonous. I should mention that Jay Dee is cursed; of the albums he's laced recently, most of them were, in my opinion, lyrically wack as hell. "Beats, Rhymes and Life" began the downfall of Tribe Called Quest. On "Like Water For Chocolate," Common ditched his wit for, among other things, a gay-ass vest. I heard the single from "Welcome to Detroit" and the streak continues. And, on "Fantastic Vol. 2," there ain't nothing but booty rhymes such as on "Fall in Love":
"ladies lovin my music is like some sex shit,
niggas trying to grip up my mic like it's a dick
run around the cornner to pick up the new shit
toss this in the deck so niggas can catch wreck
I'm the motherfucker gripping the mic like it's a joke
niggas fall in love with the music like its a ho
put down your mic you lost your whole goal
you take it to seriously like it's a gamble"
Listening to the album makes you realize how many things "shit" rhymes with--these cats are just boring. I don't know why so many producers think they can rhyme; it worked out for DITC, but cats like Jay need to leave it alone. At least he can fall back on production, but T3 and Baatin should definately not quit their day jobs. When Busta Rhymes drops the best verse on the album on "What's It All About" ("nowadays we talk funny and floss money"), you got some problems. Luckily, the lyrics are pretty monotonous and all three emcees have tolerable flows. Over Jay Dee's beats, it's hard to sound awful, even if you are spitting ironically thugged out shit over some smooth soul beats. Cop it if you like Jay Dee, his production saves the album, but he really needs to find some talent for his next project.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 3 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5.5 of 10
Originally posted: May 1, 2001