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Illa J: Yancey Boys

By Kimberly Turnerreviews
Dec 3, 2008 - 10:32 AM

Listen to "R U Listenin" ft. Guilty Simpson

John 'Illa J' Yancey is trying to keep the legacy of his brother, the highly praised J Dilla, alive with his debut album, Yancey Boys. Unfortunately, he comes up a bit short.

I’ll cut Illa J some slack. He had a nearly impossible feat to accomplish. It’s like Tito trying to record a Jackson 5 album without Michael. The spark just isn’t there. Luckily for the youngest Yancey Boy, he had plenty of his older brother’s beats to work with. The entire album is constructed from 90s era J Dilla tracks.

Yancey Boys does have a few bright spots. Illa J attacks from multiple directions, tackling rapping and singing. Despite “Showtime”'s mellow lounge beats, Illa J manages to throw some mean jabs in this all out brag-a-thon. With its simple drum loop, “R U Listenin’” features Guilty Simpson on the mic and will have you “shakin’ the haters like dice.” Illa J also gets extra points for making “awesomest” a word in “Swagger.”

The beats are perfect and nostalgic of a time when The Pharcyde and A Tribe Called Quest were in heavy radio rotation. Of course, nothing short of greatness is expected from Dilla. If it wasn’t for his carefully crafted instrumentals, Yancey Boys would just be mediocre.

That’s not to say that Illa J is devoid of talent. His skills on Yancey Boys just fail to stray from standard hip-hop and R&B fare.


Kimberly Turner is Oh Dang!'s resident music critic and pastry fiend. And No, she's not fat.

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