Common”s Like Water For Chocolate. D”Angelo”s Voodoo. Slum Village”s Fantastic, Vol. 2. What do all these musical gems of the previous year have in common? The mastermind behind the boards, James “Jay Dee” Yancey one-third of Detroit hip-hop trio Slum Village, and member of two tight production teams: Soulquarians and The Ummah. Jay Dee finally steps out of the proverbial shadow of his better-known clients and concocts a masterpiece of his very own.

Paul Wong
Walter (Charles Sutherland) stands over Hildy (Carl Hanna) in “”The Front Page.””<br><br>Courtesy of Glenn Bugala

Welcome 2 Detroit was originally designed to consist of nothing but break-beats and instrumentals, but much to his fans” pleasure, he added some serious lyrical fire, courtesy of himself and a number of Detroit”s finest, including Beel, Hodge Podge, Lacks, and the always-flamboyant Phat Kat. Fans of SV as a collective may be disappointed, as neither T3 nor Baatin make appearances. Jay Dee”s flow is reminiscent of the simplicity of A Tribe Called Quest a lazy syrupy delivery that brings the mellowness to a track. Most of his guests are lyrically stronger than he is, and they often better complement his production. Numerous instrumental tracks are nonetheless laced throughout the album, so those looking to be engulfed in his untainted musical wizardry will not be disappointed.

Those looking to shake their bon-bons may wish to direct their ears elsewhere. Welcome 2 Detroit is not on the “back that ass up” tip, but it does provide a pleasant blend of jazz and pure street soul you can lay your head back to this album on one track and crank up the volume and elevate your hands on the next. From old school to new school and back again, Jay Dee offers the underground flavor that is reminiscent of The Roots when they were early into their careers. Such a style of hip-hop, as most backpackers and serious fans know, is highly unappreciated in the MTV age. This ain”t for the frat parties, people. Only real heads need apply.

Jay Dee is at the point in his career when he can demand big name rap artists for his record. The fact that he decided to keep his guest artists strictly exclusive to those of “Tha D” is very commendable it shows that he loves the art more than the paper chase. Listening to the album from beginning to end is reminiscent of attending a hip-hop concert at The State Theater on Woodward Ave. the ambience of the fans, blunt smoke, and the punk-ass, smack-talking security all comes rushing back. It”s refreshing to see the hometown being represented on the rap side of things by someone besides that highly annoying Caucasian, homophobic, Elton John-hugging social miscreant who shall remain nameless. My only beef is that the album”s running time is extremely short, clocking in at just over 40 minutes. Perhaps that”s his plan: keep his fans salivating for more. Pick this one up, by all means.

Welcome 2 Detroit, Jay Dee BBE Records

Grade: A-

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