The Shinning might not be Dilla’s most essential album of all time, but it’s still a damn good listen (audio)
The Shinning, released in 2006 in August, it was essentially the follow-up album of Jay Dee’s mixed-bag but largely superb Welcome 2 Detroit (an album I’ll have to come back at some point). So in keeping consistent with Welcome 2 Detroit, The Shining is also a mixed bag with some fantastic moments that is both equal parts a classic and forgettable.
The argument for it being a classic comes in the form of some career-standout moments. “E=MC2” is considered by some to be one of Dilla’s finest chops; taking a well-known Giorgio Moroder song and making it hip-hop has to be one of the most mind-boggling, “How did he do that?!” moments in Dilla’s career (here’s the original track for reference). Other moments of brilliance come in the form of songs like “So Far To Go”, which is a slight modification of the Donuts beat “Bye.” but with a fantastic verse from Common and memorable chorus from the then elusive D’Angelo (which if you remember, really hadn’t been heard from since the release of his game-changing album, Voodoo). “Love”, which features a life-loving beat and a particularly energized Pharoahe Monch (which oddly enough, also hadn’t really been heard from since 2000 and his underappreciated album, Internal Affairs). In short, the first half of this record is nothing short of brilliant (although the opener, “Geek Down” with Busta Rhymes never really did anything for me).
Overall, the weakest tracks on here are really the instrumentals. Tracks like “Love Jones”, “Over The Breaks”, and “Body Movin'” are hardly bad (with “Body Movin'” being my personal favorite of the three, probably because of the little touches that J. Rocc adds here and there. That and the drums.), but all of them feel so skeletal in comparison to the rest of the beats on here. And that’s saying a lot considering at track like “Jungle Love” sounds like it was created with a metal chain and a trash can and it works so well.
Thankfully after that short run of decent but momentum-destroying instrumentals, the album picks up for the last three songs. “Dime Piece” finds the Dilla and Dwele exploring some atmospheric neo-soul territory, “Love Movin'” features quite possibly the strongest verses on the entire album from Black Thought, along with one of the most interesting beats on the entire album. But ultimately closes on one my favorite songs on the album, “Won’t Do”, a song that flips some very familiar drums and further explores that electronic-heavy sound that Dilla had toyed with on the Ruff Draft EP, plus a few verses and a catchy-as-hell chorus from the man himself.
In short, the album is a great snap shot of all the man’s work and everyone he’s ever worked with (Karriem Riggins was the man who helped finish album at the request of Dilla, which you can read more about here over at xlr8r) and is ultimately his most diverse album outside of the aforementioned Welcome 2 Detroit. I wouldn’t recommend it as a starting point though (there’s a review for THAT album coming up on Friday), but it is definitely one of the better post-Donuts albums and is absolutely worth owning. Hell, “E=MC2” makes the album worth it alone.
If you don’t have the album yet, you can grab it from your platform of choice here!