Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Illa J ft. Debi Nova – Sounds Like Love

J Dilla posthumously gives his brother a hand…


Martin Kavka: It’s not much more than a simple drum loop and a chord sequence, but its smoothness, combined with the warmth of Illa J’s and Deni Nova’s voices, is quite effective. Best of all, Illa J refreshingly just gives up trying to express how deep his love is by the end of the track: “it’s just the music, it speaks for itself — that’s all I gotta say.” Points off only because that line can be appropriated all too quickly by a cynic who’d say that Illa J is riding his brother’s coattails to get laid.

Michaelangelo Matos: Funny that this is the only part I ever remember: “Sitting here trying to think of what to say. It’s this: It’s just the music. It speaks for itself. That’s all I’ve got to say.” To which I’ll add only that the Dilla-as-greatest-producer-ever talk holds less water all the time.

Alfred Soto: Cool and assured, with real snap, a cousin of dour, minor chord hip-hop ballads like A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation.” It takes a real pro to make the I’ve-got-nothing-to-say portion work this well; maybe Illa J’s attention to dynamics and space helped.

Martin Skidmore: This has the same kind of sweetly laid-back summery feel as vintage De La Soul, say. He’s a pretty ordinary rapper, though I like Debi’s voice. This doesn’t excite me and feels out of time, but it is very likeable.

Dave Moore: Yikes, tasteful. A dab of Buffalo Springfield on an otherwise bog-standard smoove ‘n’ sfisticated bit of soul. Still, the slow-motion dap montage that inevitably loops in my head through it (in which third-tier Facebook acquaintances nod thoughtfully at a distance as closer friends partake in more complicated greeting rituals) is compelling me to overrate it slightly.

Anthony Easton: Soft, and slow, with a low-key, almost soporific phrasing from Debi Nova. I am not sure it is saying much of anything, but it’s beautiful.

Hillary Brown: As if I weren’t already irritated enough by this jazzy, laidback refusal to tickle my eardrums, its ending with a blast of static is a horrible way to go out.

Cecily Nowell-Smith: Some stupid humid summers all I can manage to do when I get home is lie on the floor and watch the ceiling, think cold thoughts, listen low to records that leave the air chill. Here’s another to hold in reserve. The beat’s vintage, lazy drum and bell-sweet harmonic, shimmering like the haze of water thrown up by sprinklers, like a drop of rain seen on slow play-back. A girly hook breezes to a burble; a guy talks devotion, sleek and unhurried. I wish it was summer again only so I could play this on repeat and feel it sink coolly into my bones, float all my stresses away.

Matt Cibula: This is the opposite of how to do a love song in rap, and was almost as bad when it was actually in fashion; can you imagine being actually turned on by this? *shivers* Even Common and Gift of Gab don’t do this lazy crap anymore.

Anthony Miccio: I was sucked in by the jazz-funk backdrop before I found out it was a posthumous J Dilla production. I was indifferent to the rapper’s come-ons before I found out he was J Dilla’s little brother. But with music this supple, it might be wiser to keep it in the family than risk the wrong star piddling their personality all over it.

Comments are closed.