‘The Diary’ was intended to be Dilla’s arrival as a major-label MC. After a period producing for the likes of The Pharcyde, De La Soul and Janet Jackson, he signed to MCA and began work on a vocal album. But the album was shelved around 2002 – major-label bullsh*t, the usual – and instead Dilla changed tack, moving to LA and following a more underground path.
Completed by representatives of Yancey’s estate, ‘The Diary’ is a glimpse of the Dilla we might have known: not the revered producer, but a champion MC leading an album packed with guest productions and cameos. Some tracks have been released – ‘Trucks’, a pimped-out remodel of Gary Numan’s ‘Cars’, and Dilla’s 2001 single ‘F*ck The Police’, a sweary middle finger to the cops powered by fluttering flutes and a sturdy funky drummer backbeat. Much, though, is new. ‘Gangsta Boogie’ is a squirming G-funk jam of the kind that’s pretty much obligated to feature a Snoop Dogg verse (it does, too), while ‘The Ex’ is a Pete Rock-produced soul number featuring Bilal that’ll charm anyone currently bumping Kendrick or D’Angelo.