Jay Stay Paid
Jay Stay Paid is a set of stray beats plucked by Pete Rock and Maureen "Ma Dukes" Yancey, Dilla's mom. Presented like a radio show slash mixtape, with snippets from radio interviews, nonintrusive interjections from Rock and Ma Dukes, and brief testimonials as part of the fabric -- not to mention an appearance from Illa J, Dilla's younger brother -- the hourlong program contains productions laid down during the last eight years of Dilla's life. Any producer not attempting to make a run at the charts would likely love to claim much of this work as his or her own; scholars won't be shocked that Dilla banked discards of this quality and range, but it's another thing to have a fraction of the man's surplus lovingly converted into a finished product. Several cuts are bound to scratch an itch you did not know you had. "Lazer Gunne Funke" makes like a Swizz Beatz demo for Busta Rhymes' "Touch It" stripped down to kick-clack percussion, bomb-drop F/X, and laser taps, left to bake in a decade's worth of direct sunlight. "On Stilts," "Glamour Sho75 (09)," and "9th Caller" deal impossibly gnarled funk, while the "Unadulterated Mix" of "Make It Fast" contorts David Essex's "Rock On" to such an extent that it comes out sounding like Edwin Starr's "Easin' In" (either that, or both songs are fused to the point of indivisibility). The curveball of all curveballs comes on "See That Boy Fly," where Dilla does to Caravan's "A Very Smelly, Grubby Little Oik" what he did with Billy Paul's "Let the Dollar Circulate" (as heard on Steve Spacek's "Circulate"), transforming the vocal into a vapor trail. Just over a third of the tracks feature MCs, a mixed assortment of veterans and newcomers, from surly/silly DOOM to eager Diz Gibran. Black Thought turns in a lyrically gimmicky update of Public Enemy's "She Watch Channel Zero" on "Reality TV." Raekwon and Mobb Deep's Havoc -- and that's actual Havoc, not sampled Havoc -- pop up on "24K Rap," kicked back over a nervous, noir beat worthy of The Infamous. M.O.P.'s Lil' Fame sounds as amped up and spluttery as ever, seemingly egged on by the chaotic two-part combat theme that is "Blood Sport." While it is neither as monumental as Donuts nor as exemplary as the Dillanthology discs, Jay Stay Paid is close to a must for any casual Dilla admirer.