Boomkat Product Review:
How the fuck is this album 16 years old‽ J Dilla’s final, and arguably greatest, album returns on reissue orbit loaded with legendary MPC chops and all-time hip hop classics
Aside from making us feel ancient, ‘Donuts’ also casts us back to formative days when Dilla was practically a saint in waiting to so many backpacker rap and hip hop heads, and the hagiographic praise surrounding him was almost off-putting, especially in the wake of so many imitators. But it would be remiss of us to dismiss the album on any of those counts, as 16 years later it still spills over with good time vibes, made all the more poignant by the fact that Dilla wrote it mostly in a hospital bed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in LA, while being treated for a rare blood disease which he would finally succumb to only three days after the album’s release.
That’s all, sadly, part of hip hop history now, and ‘Donuts’ remains one of the last, shining examples of how to do it the old skool way, digging, breaking, and flipping samples with ounces of neck-snapping swang, rather than the brash orchestral style, or hardass, drum machine driven pressure of southern rap that was already dominating the scene. From the shine-eyed beam of his classic ‘Lightworks’ banger to the soul-smacking ‘Two Can Win’ and cartoonish zaniness of ‘The Factory’, it’s all still utterly peerless in its field.