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J-Dilla's Donuts began simply enough, in summer 2005, as an idea to turn a particularly good demo beat tape into a full-length release. We think we can safely say it has since became a classic hip-hop album, one of the defining works of the artist's life. This box set includes the album on seven 45s and a bonus 45 with "Signs" from the long out-of-print Donuts 'Fan Club 45' b/w DOOM & Ghostface's "Sniper Elite & Murder Goons" - two tracks over Donuts beats which were recorded in late 2005 prior to the original release of the album. These two tracks were released digitally in 2008, but have never before appeared on vinyl. Side D contains the "Donuts Outro/Intro" appearing as an interlude at the beginning of "The Diff'rence" which dates back to the first, original sequence of the album. Completed during a year in which J Dilla spent mostly in a hospital bed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Donuts would gain particular poignancy when, only three days after it's release, February 10, 2006, the artist passed away, losing his battle with a rare blood disease. Announced in Fall 2005, the concept of a “rap album without rappers” struck some critics as either a novelty, or a minor break beat album - but Donuts would prove to transcend the rigid definitions of what a hip-hop album could be. It plays part like a DJ mix, and part like a hip-hop beat-maker at work, sounding like a producer turning the dial on an imaginary radio station. But it's an unmistakably modern album, and one which perfectly encapsulated the J Dilla's reputation among his peers and fans as the definitive architect of soulful hip-hop.
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K-Def, the ever prolific, hip-hop production legend is back with another solid slice of wax. Not familiar with his work? Just ask his previous collaborators such as KRS One, Ghostface, or LL Cool J and they’ll tell you quick: K-Def is one of the best producers, period. The Sneak Shot EP is for instrumental and rap fans alike. The record features 5 hi- fidelity instrumentals as well as a freestyle by K’s cousin, Seven Shawn (from World Renown. 90’s-Era rap fans know). Clocking in at just over 10 minutes, the NJ based producer/engineer intentionally pushed the limits and crammed a whole bunch of highly potent tracks onto a single 45, but was somehow able to achieve a noticeably HI-FI sound that audiophiles will surely notice. Looks like his time spent working with Marley Marl at the House of Hits during the 90s, working the SSL mix board and Akai MPC3000 really paid off. K-Def’s music is timeless and his skills as an arranger/composer are constantly improving... Need proof? Get this record.
Sold Out - $9.99
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The newest edition of the 7 series from Mello Music Group. Strictly limited to 300 units, this one features Quelle Chris showcasing his flow and production with special guests DJ Groweyez, House Shoes, and Denmark Vessey.
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The A-side of the next installment in Mello Music Group’s 7” Series comes from Diamond District/1978er producer/emcee yU. The gruff DMV MC is known for philosophical street rap but “Dreams” takes a different route - the result a hauntingly beautiful track likely to end up on repeat. Enlisting Danedra Rowell on vocals, yU eschews the new age boom-bap that got him noticed for something closer to all of our heartstrings. Featuring no rapped bars, “Dreams” is a bittersweet ballad that is less literal than emotive. It captures that late-night, pensive feeling us music heads are very familiar with. yU is able to craft a sound that is universal and hyper-local, breaking new ground for himself musically. The drums sound like they could be on any Diamond District-related project but the melody and chords don’t sound too far from something that could find its way onto radio.
“It’s not what you know, but who you know.” This oft-used adage to describe success in nearly any facet of life is incessantly repeated for a reason: IT’S TRUE. Candidly, this is the common fiber that creates new relationships and provides an opportunity for the “knowns” while frequently relegating the “unknowns” to the back of the bin. Another vital component is talent – a necessary ingredient in any burgeoning career and a perquisite for sustainability. Enter “The World Famous” Tony Williams, a performer that not only features Kanye West on his latest 7” single “Another You” but can call him family as well. Sure, the familial bond is important, but let’s be real: Mr. West is not co-signing ANYONE on his solo albums (Tony has been on EVERY one) unless you can stand on your own merit, your own talent. Tony Williams performed at not one, but two different Inaugural Balls in 2008. Having a famous cousin can get you in the door, but performing in front of the President (twice) takes more than fame, game or name. Keep in mind: this is Tony Williams’ project and Kanye West is a guest rapping on it, a la College Dropout-era with soulful production provided by BINK!. The singing meshes seamlessly with the soundscape and you can feel the honesty in the creation of this song. It feels as if Tony and Kanye were at a family function and they took a break to hit the studio and this gem was the result. Redefinition Records (REDEF) saw the sincerity in this project, too, and is not only offering this song in a 7” format, but a CD of Tony Williams full-length King Or The Fool: An Opera, Volume 1 will be included for fans looking for physical product. Joe Buck provided the stellar artwork to go along with features from John Legend, Raheem DeVaughn and production by BINK!, No I.D., Hit-Boy and others. This teaming up of REDEF and The High Society highlights the desire to give fans something more than another free download of disposable music to be lost in the iTunes abyss. Attention is given to the music, the lyrics, the artwork and the packaging. “Another You” is representative of an album oozing with effort and a passion for this artform, which connects Tony Williams and the listener. Plus, enjoy a slice of history as this is the first 7” for either Tony Williams or Kanye West in their distinguished careers. It’s a family affair! ENJOY.
Sold Out - $11.99