REVIEW: Abstract Hip Hop Orchestra Does Dilla

By Anton Constantinou

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It’s not everyday a rap star receives an orchestral rendition of their music, let alone one as famous as J Dilla.

But at London’s The Jazz Cafe on Friday 19th August, the late record producer and rapper had two of his most iconic albums brought to life in big band form, Donuts and The Shining. And what a show it was!

The Abstract Hip Hop Orchestra – an all-star hip-hop big band from Leeds – did a masterful job of reworking such classics as WorkinonitSo Far To Go and The Diff’rence, replacing the usual bass loops and funk/motown samples, with live drumming, singing, sax and guitar playing.

Dilla may have physically died 11 years ago, but his spirit was certainly live and kicking in Camden last Friday. There were moments where you thought he might suddenly appear on stage, under the gaze of ambient light, and start dropping bars from Won’t Dosuch was the potency of the tribute.

Our only criticism is the fact that the show was restricted to just two albums. Given Dilla’s gargantuan back catalogue, it would be nice to see some of his early Tribe and Pharcyde cuts brought into the fold as well.

For further details of the Abstract Hip Hop Orchestra, including tour dates, click here to follow them on Twitter. Moreover, if you’re new to Dilla and want to get more into his music, you can give a listen to this ‘best of’ mix on his greatest work YouTube.




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