Frank-n-Dank

48 Hours Instrumentals

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After his untimely passing in 2006, fans began clamoring for material bearing the J Dilla stamp, so, in 2013, a decade after its initial release, the Dilla-produced Frank-n-Dank debut was re-released in instrumental form. Interestingly, when 48 Hours came out, the prodigious hip-hop producer was in an experimental phase. After working with a long list of golden-age vets at the tail end of the '90s (including Pharcyde, Roots, Busta Rhymes, and A Tribe Called Quest), he produced an excellent full-length with Slum Village, and then blew the lid off with 2001's Welcome 2 Detroit, which featured standout performances by his Conant Gardens cohorts Frank-n-Dank. Then, just a few months before a creative high point with Madlib for Champion Sound (which also saw that duo spitting verses), Yancey tried his hands at making club beats for 48 Hours. No samples were used, so there's a noticeable absence of dusty soul vinyl. Instead, the sound is futuristic (at least for the period), and revolves around computerized sounds, with fat, round kicks, sharp handclaps, and software-based keyboard patches. Of course, even when held by technological restraints, Dilla is able to make a head-knockin' groove that swings, and while the beats are digital -- with the exception of ?uestlove's drumming over "Keep It Coming" -- his unique boom-bap personality shines with or without record crates and his beloved MPC. Stripping away the battle boasts of Frank-n-Dank is both a matter of taste and a tradeoff, in which some tracks feel empty without rapping and others benefit from the open space. For example, the dancehall-flavored "Marijuana" seems entirely built for their ragga toasts on the chorus. However, many other songs, like "Get Cha Bitch" and "Ma Dukes," are so intricate that they hold up as well, if not better, on their own.

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