I normally shrug at rappers who take well-known beats from an iconic producer only to rhyme over them and call it a tribute. Except local alternative MC Obii Say sounds natural over J-Dilla‘s recognizable blend of percussive boom bap, injecting the instrumentals with some light-hearted anecdotes and formidable wordplay.
Uploaded Tuesday night, Obii’s Donuts for the Villagers mixtape reconfigures eight Dilla beats, from Welcome To Detroit, Ruff Draft, and other releases. The project also pays homage to Detroit trio Slum Village, whose left-of-center lyrical approach played well against Dilla’s atmospheric production. “Their music was just…elsewhere,” Obii says on “More Pizzazz,” which rips Slum Village’s “Tell Me.” “I still think they’re under-rated to this day.”
On “Hey, I Remember You,” Obii uses the instrumental from SV’s “Fall in Love” to reminisce about childhood love, while “Untitled” is a decent posse cut featuring The Cranberry Show with Dilla’s “Thelonious” as the soundtrack. Donuts can be downloaded here.