Donuts – J Dilla (why it’s the greatest album of all time)

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    artwork by magnus
    Rank: First Frost
    Points: 115

    Let’s get into J Dilla. On his 32nd birthday, J Dilla released his magnum opus, Donuts. He passed three days later. 31 beats for 31 years of life. The album begins with the last song on its tracklist, aptly named, “Welcome To The Show.” The track samples Motherlode’s 1969 song, “When I Die” – it’s a haunting choice for the last sampled song on the album considering his passing 3 days after the release but the harmonies on this track are breathtakingly beautiful.

    From here the album loops into track 1, “Donuts (Outro)” – the “end” of the album.

    Track 2, “Workinonit,” calls for everyone to take “center stage” as they grab the mic and start yammering commands. The music obeys Dilla’s orders as they assume positions amidst electric guitars and drunk drums.

    J Dilla is best experienced in a slew of his ideas. Tapping into a flurry of his creative transitions can really showcase his genius.

    “The New” excitedly exclaims that “We’re putting it on WAX!” beating down into the instrumental as it sends off waves.

    “Stop” is a beautiful boomerang of love, riding along a beat until it bursts into a lingering electric guitar

    “People” entrances the listener in the sounds of bongos and echoeous mantras.

    “Mash” is a banger- twisting the listener into serpentine piano riffs as he fires off bits of dissonance until…

    The beautiful gem “Time: The Donut of the Heart” begins. This track samples the enchanting guitarwork from The Jackson 5’s “All I Do Is Think Of You.” As he speeds up and slows down time, he transports us away.

    From here on out it’s great vibes. Dilla experiments with a variety of ideas in his beatwork shifting styles every minute to two minutes.

    “Two Can Win” is a bop that doesn’t stop, boasting maybe the best transition on the whole project as it slides into “Don’t Cry.”

    “Don’t Cry” is an incredibly personal track. J Dilla created this from his deathbed in order to comfort his brother. Both the samples and emotions are incredibly complex.

    “Anti-American Graffiti” swings between jagged tinny guitars, striking up a scene as it flares up. The title is a reference to a 1973 film directed by George Lucas.

    What’s awesome about Donuts is how you can blink and the next thing you know, he’s sampling Hendrix’s Electric Lady Land. He goes all over the beatmap with this album.

    “Gobstopper” is an absolute blast of a beat, championing trumpets as it struts down its 65 second run time.

    “One For The Ghost” is yet another haunting track from Donuts. I sometimes wonder about what these track titles might’ve meant to J Dilla.

    “Dilla Says Go” is another one of my favorites. This song is so chill, it just rolls into itself so easily as a xylophone chimes in the background.

    From the depths of the “Factory” arrives “U-Love” – another fabulous gem of this epic. “U-Love” samples “Just Because I Really Love You” by Jerry Butler – creating another otherworldly earworm that plays itself into forever.

    We hear “Hi.” & “Bye.” before hearing the “Last Donut Of The Night.” As we spin around this sound, we reflect on 30 tracks we’ve been voyaging through. At long last, track 31 plays and we hear the glorious “Welcome To The Show.” But this thing just keeps going, right back into track 1: “Donuts (Outro).

    With 31 delicious beats that loop into themselves, J Dilla creates an inescapable paradise. When I’m spinning this record, I’m always finding new little sounds somewhere deep in the beat (despite this being my most listened to album of all time). Within each track lies a lifetime of artist’s poise that comes together to form, what is in my opinion, the greatest album of all time.

    read the full article on NCC:

    50 YEAR RETROSPECTIVE: Nujabes & J Dilla (Author: Elliott Hay)

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