While fighting a losing battle with Lupus, legendary producer J-Dilla, aka J-Dee, continued to do what he loved for the love what he did. With the help of his friend, talented Jazz musician, composer and producer Kenneth Riggins, Dilla was able to complete Donuts, a classic instrumental album that became his crowning achievement, and completed close to three quarters of The Shining, literally from his death bed. After Dilla passed on February 10, 2006, three days after his thirty-second birthday and the release date for Donuts, Riggins granted one of his friend’s last wishes and began putting the finishing touches on The Shining.
Although, it has points where the album sounds a bit choppy and unpolished, The Shining is yet another excellent contribution from the late great J-Dee to the Hip-Hop catalogue and community that he loved so dearly. The Shining is a salmagundi of Jazz horns and breaks, Soul riffs and Dilla’s signature drums and claps that uniquely overlap voice samples from the classic Steven King movie of the same name, giving the album a consistency rarely found in albums that appear to be compilations. Few producers have been able to release solo projects that feature various artist that do not come off as well done mix tapes, but Dilla’s presence is felt on every track and the guest appearances are as strong of a performance as we have ever heard from many of these artist, some of which have come out of obscurity to work with the beloved J-Dee one last time. "On So Far So Good", “neo-soul” vanguard, D’Angelo returns to join Common on one of the best tracks on the album. Renowned Emcee Pharoahe Monch, formally of Organized Konfusion, also returns to lay-down harmonic vocals on "Love". Along with the two aforementioned tracks, "Dime Piece" featuring Dwele proves that not only is Dilla one of the most underrated Hip-Hop producers, but he is also one of the greatest Soul/ R&B producers (he produced such classics as Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun and D’Angelo’s Voodoo.) Other stand out tracks include "E=Mc2" featuring Common, showing why he is the producer that truly brings out the best in Common regardless of what the sound scan says. And then there’s "Baby" featuring Madlib, considered by many to be the west-coast Dilla, with whom he collaborated to make classic Jaylib Champion Sound album. "Baby" also features Guilty Simpson, a Detroit native who Dilla referred to as one of his favorite Emcees.
In all, The Shining is a beautiful display of musical production and arrangement giving us a message that this would have only been the beginning but leaves comforted with it being the end to an illustrious career. Thank you for your contribution to music history, we hope to see you when we get there. We love you Dilla. Rest in peace.