There's ancedots of James Yancey barely sleeping under his professional life; around 30 leaked beat tapes, classic production for some of the finest artists in rap and soul music, collaborations with Madlib, Slum Village, Frank-N-Dank, and Common as well as first-class solo releases like "Donuts", "Welcome 2 Detroit" and the "Ruff Draft" EP. Despite his passing, it seems hardcore Dilla fans still can't get enough of previously unreleased material from the late producer, cherishing any lost musik like holy grails; some of the posthumous work so far have been clever and extremely well put together ("The Shining", "Jay $tay Paid") while others have left a lot to wish for ("Rebirth Of Detroit").
Under the supervision of Ma Dukes and long-time Dilla associate Frank Nitty of Frank-N-Dank, PayJay Productions, Inc. has now been restarted (under the distribution of Delicious Vinyl) and from the releases announced so far it seems that they is aiming to focus on finally getting out previously unreleased quality material from the late Detroit producer. As announced before, the first releases in focus is Jay Dee's early 2000's productions that was originally to make up the two full-lengths he was working on for MCA Records before both projects were shelved. First out is Frank-N-Dank's "48 HRS" which was released and reviewed a couple of days ago, and D's solo endeavour "The Diary" (p/ka "Pay Jay"). To give a sneak peek of what to come, Delicious Vinyl has put together a four-track EP in both digital format and on 10" single. Unlike previous posthumous Jay Dee releases, the EP entitled "The Lost Scrolls Vol. 1" features not only the beats we've all come to love from the late producer but also previously unreleased vocals from the Detroit native. As we rarely are treated to never before heard rhymes from the original Slum Village son, it stands as an exceptional release in its own right. Yancey on the mic is actually quite undrrated as his rhyming skills often get downplayed in reviews and such. Granted he's no Rakim, but he's always enjoyable to listen to with his stand-out voice, infectious lyrics and on top of that he was always in tune wih whatever beat he rhymed over; and so, here as well.
The main track on the A-side is "Dewitt to Do It"; a somber, Rhodes-driven track that is actually a remix of "Shake It Down" from 2001:s "Welcome to Detoit" LP. It's heavily different from the album version which was a quite raunchy up-tempo joint, while the overall sound created here are laid-back and one of an etheral sound driven by a melodic bassline and an addictive rhodes sample. The somewhat agressive vocal performance and the mellow production creates a nice contrast which gives the track a unique spin not at all found on the original version. I still by far prefer the original album version, but it's a real treat to hear any ureleased Dilla remix of his own "Welcome..." work. While it stands well on it's own, it's laid-back and Rhodes-driven sound gives the impression that Jay Dee tried to mix the sound of Slum Village's "Fantastic II" with the more agressive solo stuff he made from the late 2000 and forward. This is followed by a short intermission-type song called "Smack a Bitch" that clocks in at under one minute, and is a remotely neat interlude but doesn't add much to the release more than as a bonus beat.
On the B-side we find the second real title on this 10"; "The Throwaway", a real slamming joint that was rightfully released as the lead single in promotion of this single.The drums goes hard here, featuring additional percussion and a roaming bassline and the occassional keys that together really creates an outstanding joint. This is by far the most interesting track on the EP; add to the fact that not only Dilla grab the mic here, but is also joined by long-time partners Frank Nitt and his lil' brother Illa J. It does however make me wonder, whether Frank's and Illa's vocals were added to the song after the fact in time for this release or if they were in fact part of the original multi-track. However that may be, you can hear a certain dynamic between the three emcees who effortlessly rock this ecstatc production. "The Throwaway" is by far the crown jewel of the EP and should have been placed as the A-side on this EP, despite a title that doesn't make the music very much justice.
To be fair "The Lost Scrolls" is a bunch of glorified demos, left behind by Jay Dee in a warehouse of his record collection, recently discovered by Ma Dukes. Both "The Throwaway" and "Dewitt to do It" (a.k.a. "It's Like That Remix") is must-hear songs for any true Dilla fanatics, and though it's evident that these four tracks are demos probably never intened for release (although mastered you can hear slight hissing effects in the music), With that being said, Dilla's lost demos are still better than most producers official work and any "new" Dilla is always welcome if you ask me. I would recommend a purchase of this only to the hardcore Yancey fans that got the $$ to spend on it. Personally I would rather put my money on the official release of Frank-N-Dank's "48 HRS" and the upcoming "The Diary" project. I'd give this a 3/5 rating which is not bad, but still pretty damn weak for a Dilla release. You can order "Lost Scrolls Vol.. 1" @ UGHH .