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Sunset Blvd.

Yancey Boys

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Album Review

Taking the name of his debut album and turning it into a project, Illa J joins with Frank Nitt for the Yancey Boys and their debut release, Sunset Blvd.. Comprised of beats from Illa J's older brother J Dilla, the album doesn't necessarily celebrate the game-changing, Detroit hip-hop producer's life (he passed away in 2006 at the age of 32 from a lupus-like disease), but it does celebrate the vibe his records offered, as Illa and Frank join a smart, street-level series of MCs who swagger and stun over these soulful backing tracks. On the great "Fisherman," reverence is one thing ("Tell 'em like Dilla told em"), but fly kicks are another ("When I feel the beat with all my soul, fill the streets with my songs/Feel my feet on the road, call me Beatles Rubber Soul") as J-Rocc, Vice, and Detroit Serious join the Yancey duo for a vibrant hang session. Then there's the all-star posse of Talib Kweli, Niko Gray, and Rhettmatic, who turn Dilla's beat into what it demands, a seductive bedroom number called "Flowers." Clubs will instantly get cooler once the J-Rocc and Guilty Simpson electro-wonder called "Go and Ask the DJ" hits the speakers, while grown folks who don't get out as much get some serious headphone listening from veteran MCs like De La Soul's Posdanous ("Beautiful") and Common ("Quicksand"). Surprises come when the broken jazz of Dilla's beat meets the Yancey Boys at full steam on the proud and amazing "Without Wings," while the lesser-known J Pinder jumps on the A-list with some supreme macking during "Honk Ya Horn" ("To the Apollonian chick, with the Swisha and a tray/Twistin' the hay, good green like Michigan State"). Fans thinking these rare beats should be handled with more respect are missing the point — and can seek out the instrumentals, which are available as a bonus or separately — but those who approach this as fond memories on Friday night will find themselves smiling until the sun comes up on Monday. Good times, great rhymes, and excellent beats.

Customer Reviews

Dilla Dilla Dilla…Beats Beats Beats

Full disclaimer—you won’t find a bigger Dilla fan on the face of the Earth. Since the production is all J Dilla beats, you kinda can’t go wrong. That said, some of these are straight bangers, but you can tell that some beats were old stale joints that Dilla Dog probably didn’t think were his best.

It’s still a nice album and all of the featured emcees kinda round it out nicely. It’s a well rounded project. Common definitely repped on the first single, “Quicksand,” and its b-side “Fisherman” is dope too with that signature Jay Dee production sound.

If nothing else, why not pick up more beats from the best to ever do it?

J dilla


Dilla always prevails

Any album that features production by Dilla is guaranteed to be solid. This one is no different!


Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '10s

Not so much a group as a one-off project, Yancey Boys is a tribute to the late J Dilla featuring the Detroit hip-hop producer's young brother, John "Illa J" Yancey, plus Dilla's longtime friend and frequent collaborator Frank Nitt. The name was first used in 2008 when Illa J's debut album, Yancey Boys, was released featuring Dilla's beats. In 2013, Nitt and Illa joined together as Yancey Boys for the "Quicksand" single featuring Common. The project's...
Full Bio
Sunset Blvd., Yancey Boys
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Customer Ratings

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