The New York Times documentary The Legacy of J Dilla covers oft-trod ground. The rapper/producer’s all-too brief life as well as the turmoil surrounding his estate has been the subject of countless articles and Dan Charnas’ bestselling 2022 biography, Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm. Directors Chris Frierson and Esther Dere seem to follow Charnas’ book closely, from the sociopolitical conditions afflicting Dilla’s childhood home in Conant Gardens, Detroit to the avalanche of “Dilla Changed My Life” swag and lawsuits between his decedents. Its main appeal is to actually see him (through archival footage), his family and friends speak. They may be spinning a well-told tale, but there’s a certain poignancy in watching them peer into the camera and memorialize a justly lionized musician. DJ Jazzy Jeff’s comments are particularly welcome. The Legacy of J Dilla premiered on FX/Hulu as part of its ongoing documentary series, The New York Times Presents.
DJ Muggs x Madlib x Meyhem Lauren, Champagne for Breakfast
Champagne for Breakfast highlights the strengths and weaknesses of Meyhem Lauren, who’s best known for riding shotgun on Action Bronson’s various multimedia adventures. He’s got a decent po-faced style and a capacity to crack a few fly bars but lacks the conceptual savvy to elevate his street dreams into something more transcendent than a thug-rap excursion. Over the past several years, Muggs has made himself into the Gothic composer of the “drumless” era — he did excellent work on Westside Gunn’s Flygod Is an Awesome God — and his highlights include “OD Wilson” and “Evolution,” the latter on which Meyhem raps, “I specialize in aeronautics, got a fly team.” Meanwhile, Madlib interjects vocal loops on Muggs’ beats, and his “Triple M Airlines” is a nice, crackly instrumental. The beats attributed to Madlib alone seem aimless in comparison to Muggs, but he eventually achieves synergy with Meyhem on “Wild Salmon,” a light disco-boogie closer. Rap cameos include Action Bronson and Meyhem’s brother, Hologram. Muggs released Champagne for Breakfast on his Soul Assassin Records label.