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Monday, April 18, 2016

After Years in a Storage Unit, J Dilla's Last, Unreleased Album, The Diary, Sees The Light of Day

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 12:14 PM

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J Dilla fans rejoice! Last Friday, April 15, The Diary, an entire, unreleased J Dilla album, was released for free on SoundCloud thanks to Mass Appeal Records and Dilla's company PayJay. The album is the last batch of unreleased material that Dilla assembled to be released after his untimely death in 2006 (from an incurable blood disease). It is one of the earliest projects that Dilla rapped on and features production from many of his favorite producers, like Madlib, Waajeed, Pete Rock, and Hi-Tek.
Originally called Pay Jay, the album was supposed to come out in 2002 and serve as Dilla's mainstream debut under MCA Records.  The Detroit-born, underground legend completed the 16-track album over an eight month period in the early 2000s, following the release of his first solo album, Welcome 2 Detroit, in 2001. Prior to its creation, Dilla had been known as more of behind-the-scenes hitmaker and influencer, and The Diary was supposed to be one of the first albums to showcase his rapping abilities. 

But MCA decided to shelve the album because it was not what they'd anticipated, which in turn led Dilla to leave the label and move to California a few years later.  For years, the unreleased project remained in his storage unit in Detroit. Before his death, Dilla made plans for the album to be released posthumously, and it has taken a decade of legal battles and archive digging for the album to finally see the light of day. 

Nas, who is now the associate publisher of Mass Appeal (thanks to a six-figure donation he made to the company in 2013), announced the much-delayed album's release on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 radio program on Feb. 18, roughly two months before The Diary's drop. It came out officially on Friday, April 15 and was released on vinyl as a Record Store Day exclusive on Saturday, April 16, along with a 16-page booklet detailing the story of the album. 

Considering that Record Store Day was only two days ago, chances are high that if you still want to get your hands on this LP, you can. The Diary is an exemplary project, showcasing Dilla's many styles and influences, and a must for anyone who longs for the hip-hop glory days of yore.

By the way, did we mention that Snoop Dogg, Bilal, and Nas are also on the album? 

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Jessie Schiewe


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