Artist: J Dilla aka Jay Dee Track: "Illasoul" Album: Yancey Boys (Instrumentals) Listen

Post-mortem hip-hop releases are almost always plagued by the dynamics of scarcity, self-consciousness and, you know, other setbacks inherent in trying to release a new album by someone no longer able to produce music.

The foundation of the Yancey Boys project is a collection of untouched beats produced by deceased genius J Dilla put together by his younger brother, an emcee named Illa J. Yancey is the brothers' last name.

You can buy the regular version with Illa J's lyrics or an instrumental version, which is far superior. I linked above to the full version, which should give you a sense of the beats and vocals that were added recently. The words are nothing special; the beats are the reason to buy the record.

Dilla's leftovers are far superior to those of Tupac or Notorious B.I.G., and this batch comes from unused material around the time he was crafting beats for the Pharcyde classic Labcabincalifornia. It has a similar feel, stressing smooth piano, laidback drum samples and mood over movement.

Go buy the naked, untouched version. If you're considering the other one, read on...

Artist: J Dilla aka Jay Dee Track: "Illasoul" Album: Yancey Boys (Instrumentals) Listen

Post-mortem hip-hop releases are almost always plagued by the dynamics of scarcity, self-consciousness and, you know, other setbacks inherent in trying to release a new album by someone no longer able to produce music.

The foundation of the Yancey Boys project is a collection of untouched beats produced by deceased genius J Dilla put together by his younger brother, an emcee named Illa J. Yancey is the brothers' last name.

You can buy the regular version with Illa J's lyrics or an instrumental version, which is far superior. I linked above to the full version, which should give you a sense of the beats and vocals that were added recently. The words are nothing special; the beats are the reason to buy the record.

Dilla's leftovers are far superior to those of Tupac or Notorious B.I.G., and this batch comes from unused material around the time he was crafting beats for the Pharcyde classic Labcabincalifornia. It has a similar feel, stressing smooth piano, laidback drum samples and mood over movement.

Go buy the naked, untouched version. If you're considering the other one, read on...

Illa J says on his blog: "It's like if Michael Jordan had a younger brother who came into the league playing on the same team -- but this time Dilla is playing point guard, feeding me the ball, and I'm driving in to score."

However, Illa J is only a decent rapper, and guests like Guilty Simpson don't provide enough support on most of the tracks. Illa shifts from decent conversational rapper in the style of Pharcyde's Bootie Brown to an idealistic street preacher a la Guru. If Dilla is Michael Jordan, Illa J is a lot like Craig Ehlo, circa 1989.

The second problem is the legacy problem -- using a man's music in new contexts to make statements he didn't necessarily endorse or even prepare for. Releasing a collection of Dilla's unheard instrumentals is one thing, but adding elements to his songs without his creative OK is another thing entirely.

I won't argue over the ethics here, only the aesthetics. The question isn't whether or not it's right; the question is whether it works. Illa J has the best intentions, but isn't always the best fit. Much of this record sounds haphazard and clumsy, as if some emcees found an old Dilla record and starting freestyling over it. The vintage vibe -- West Coast backpack rap circa 1995 -- doesn't help.

I'm glad Jay Dee's legacy continues, but I'll take his bare beats over this stuff any day.