J Dilla’s »The Diary« was originally planned to be released as a solo record in 2002. However, after his break with MCA, it quickly disappeared in the archives. Back then, a broad audience already knew him as a producer, which is why he wanted to use »The Diary« to prove his qualities as an MC. In order to do so, he carefully selected a few instrumentals, mostly contributed by his favorite producers such as Madlib, Pete Rock, Karriem Riggins, Nottz, Waajeed, Supa Dave West, Hi-Tek and Bink. It’s a list of big names, which still bear enough similarities in order to sound consistent while offering quite a stylistic variety. However, Dilla’s solo tracks from that time, like »Welcome 2 Detroit« or »Ruff Draft«, are so dense that the rest of »The Diary« can’t quite keep up with them. Lyric wise, »The Diary« presents the Dilla we know – an ambitioned and charming (yet not exceptionally gifted) rapper, who is most fun to listen to when he’s not too serious, like in »Trucks« or »Ice«. It really is most striking that Dilla’s very own productions are the best ones – among them »Trucks«, »Fuck the Police« (of course) and »Ice«, which was produced by Madlib and which seems to be anticipating his exceptional record »Jaylib«. All in all, »The Diary« is a proper record but cannot quite be described as a Dilla classic. And, of course, this is nothing but nitpicking, considering that it’s a highly recommendable record.