Prior to his death in 2006, producer J Dilla crafted one of the more prolific back catalogs in hip-hop history. While much has already been released, there’s still a veritable treasure trove of material to be unearthed. In fact, in just the last year alone, there’s been several posthumous offerings, including The Diary, the Lost Scrolls Vol. 1, and the Diamond & Ice EP.
On August 26th, Dilla’s estate will release yet another collection of unreleased music with The King of Beats (Ma Dukes Yancey Collector’s Edition Box Set). As its title suggests, Dilla’s mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, oversaw the collection and curated much of its content.
Spanning 40 tracks, the set includes four 10-inch vinyl LPs of unreleased songs from Dilla’s “Batches” collection, a cassette with five unreleased tracks, a three-inch floppy disk featuring one unreleased beat, and a booklet containing interviews with music scholars and Dilla’s peers.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Yancey said the unreleased material represents “lost scrolls found in Dilla’s storage locker and gifted back to me.” She added, “This project came about by a lot of soul searching and meditation as to what can I do now that my son has so many bootleg projects out by unknown artists. Now that I’m out of mourning and full of insight and feeling my son’s energy radiate around me, I wanted to do something different but iconic; Something that people would preserve and relish for a lifetime that spoke quality.”
As our first taste, Ma Dukes has unveiled “Filth”. Of the track, she said, “It is definitely (one) that Dilla had fun with and his lyrics would put smiles on his fan’s faces. To hear him have fun doing his craft so well when he was healthy and not under any pressure is golden.” Though known more for his cutting-edge production, “Filth” demonstrates Dilla was just as skilled as an emcee, as he drops raw, rapid-fire wordplay over a skittish beat of drums and skewed vocal samples.
Listen in below:
Pre-orders for the collection are ongoing. The King of Beats will be manufactured in a box with the appearance of an E-Mu SP-1200. Dilla used that brand of drum machine/sampler to create beats for A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, The Pharcyde, and many more.