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Jay Dee, J Dilla Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Music & Marketing
  • ASIN: 5558714255
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,129,749 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

BBC Review

I’ve never been one for Golden Eras of art – especially when it comes to pop music, a form ever-morphing beside technological innovation and fluctuations in the human condition. To say that a select few years encapsulated everything that’s ever been great about a continuing movement is, typically, madness, as what the near-or-far future holds, nobody can say.

But if one was to look at production in hip hop, they might view the years 1997 to 2006 as a period of considerably rich pickings: from Timbaland breaking through with Missy Elliott’s Supa Dupa Fly in 97, via Pharrell Williams’ work for Kelis and Clipse in the late-90s, to Kayne West’s desk-manning genius until The College Dropout. And with credits on releases by De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, Talib Kweli, Common and Mos Def, Detroit-based James ‘J Dilla’ (or ‘Jay Dee’) Yancey was also a major mover, his talents massively in-demand.

The former Slum Village member never attained the mainstream profile of the aforementioned trio of producers-turned-solo-talents, though, as he died of the blood disease TTP in February 2006, just three days after his 32nd birthday. That day also saw the release of his first solo album proper as J Dilla, the sprawling, psychedelic, borderline-bonkers 31 tracks of slippery beats and sepia soul that is Donuts.

While sold as an instrumental affair – no featured rappers here, and Yancey doesn’t take the microphone despite past MC form – Donuts is much more than a collection of compositions without lyrical focal points. Motifs both superbly weird and instantly recognisable rise and fall, vocals snatched from a genre-spanning variety of sources acting as pivots for Dilla’s original contributions to see-saw atop of. In the first five minutes the listener will hear 10cc, the Beastie Boys, 1970s R&B singer Shuggie Otis, and a double-dose of Mantronix (whose King of the Beats is repeatedly referenced). Later, Kool & The Gang, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson have their catalogues raided for slivers of inspiration, but whether the listener spots them or not is another matter.

It’s the seamlessness of Dilla’s productions that really became his calling card after 2003’s Jaylib release, Champion Sound – how samples were incorporated as if they’d always been there, like these were the originals and, somehow, James Brown had beamed himself into the future (and back again) for his My Thang single of 1974. And Donuts’ success – it was named among the best albums of its decade by several publications – has led to it informing many a song since its maker’s death. Ghostface Killah has taken One for Ghost – though its title is a clue to its original purpose: to be used by the Wu-Tang man at a later date – and Drake lifted Time: The Donut of the Heart for use on his Comeback Season mixtape, an act acknowledged on his 2010 album Thank Me Later when he states: "I came up in the underground though / So I’mma spend another 10,000 for Dilla." Dollars well spent, sir.

One of hip hop’s finest sets of truly singular ability, Donuts is a record that will – due to its enduring influence and the fate of the master craftsman behind it – likely remain timeless. Whether it can be held aloft as a truly golden example of its kind will be determined not by the here-and-now, but by what follows next; but something that can’t be doubted is that Dilla had a unique Midas touch which has reached well beyond his own, tragically short lifetime.

--Mike Diver

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RIP J Dilla 2 Mar 2006
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
A truly excellent album. I too was a little dubious about the fact that each track must avaerage about 1 minute in length but that doesn't take away from the quality of the tunes. It is almost typical of an artist of this calibre that he will become more widely known and respected only now he has past away, at the young age of 32 and with so much more to give. If I'm not mistaken there are some other projects he has worked on coming out later this year. Check the Stones Throw website for more details.
If you like hip hop, soul and beats then you can't go wrong. J Dilla, for those of you that don't know, has produced for a lot of the more discerning rappers on the scene. For example Common, Q-Tip (both in and out of A Tribe Called Quest), Kanye West, De La Soul, and was a founding member of Slum Village. This is the work of a producer at the top of his game and the album plays like Dilla's just showing off. Pretty much every track on here, if lengthened and rapped over, could be a stand out tune on any other artist's album. There is something infectious about this CD. The brevity of each track makes you want to pay attention and see where Dilla's going to take you next.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius 26 Jan 2006
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
At first I was put off by the running time (about 37 minutes): I thought it was too short. But it's all about quality, not quantity. This album is damn-right quality. Pure 100% INSTRUMENTAL HIP-HOP. These tracks were meant to be instrumental as well. They're not loose clippings found on the studio floor, or tracks with the lyrics removed. It's all original.
For real hip-hop headz! You know what to do!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece from Hip-Hop's unsung genius. 13 Aug 2006
By Dj Linx
Format:Audio CD
There are rare moments in music's history when an artist or group will produce an album which, not only stands the test of time, but revolutionizes how we think about music, how its produced and how much further back the boundaries of acceptability have peen pushed.

Like the Beatles' Sgt Peppers Lonley Hearts Club, or Marvin Gaye's What's Goin On, Donuts by J Dilla is one such album guaranteed to have people talking in years to come (as it is now) about where they were when they first heard it, and how ground breaking they found it at the time.

The thing with Donuts is that you have to forget about the conventional. Jay Dee is not about the conventional. Donuts (and I might be wrong, but I doubt it!) may well be a prophetic glimpse into the future of a stagnated genre dominated by big corporate interests, which is perpetuating the current uncreative superfluous mediocrity masquerading as Hip-Hop.

As for the meat of the album itself, crate-diggers and beat-junkies will revel in the tantalizing sample-fest Dilla serves up.

Donuts is a statement. A commentary on post WW2 black American music; an analysis of the various genres and a psychopathic reinterpretation of them.

All in all, Donuts is one of the most creative montages of sonic art this side of the millenium, and arguably of the 20 years prior to it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible 30 April 2011
By James
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Often with music, the stuff you don't get at first eventually becomes your favourite. Donuts is that kind of music, abrupt changes, random sirens and a massive variety of samples made it hard to understand to start off with, but after a few complete listens these become its most endearing qualities. The different tracks cover so many different emotions, each with loads of tiny details, many I'm sure I'm just missing.

I guess I'll just end saying this is a legendary album, and one that's changed my perspective in music. Definitely recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Six out of Five 8 April 2010
Format:Audio CD
A shade over thirty minutes long, it's certainly not big. And on the surface, it's not all that clever: a bunch of old, mostly motown-era records flipped and chopped by Detroit's James Yancey into roughly-hewn instrumental hip-hop beats. But descriptions don't really do justice to this incredible album. Genius is a wildly over-used descriptive, but this has to be as close as hip-hop is likely to get.

Certainly there's an added poignance in the fact that Dilla created the majority of this album in the days before his untimely death at the age of 32, lending Donuts something of the air of a last testament. But fundamentally it's just a stunning listening experience, most comparable for me to DJ Shadow's "Endtroducing....." album of a decade earlier.

If you can track it down, the bootleg "Recipe For Tasty Donuts" compilation makes a great accompaniment; hearing the original songs helps to get a feel for the deceptively simple craftsmanship involved in making Donuts. But even on its own, this is a six-stars-out-of-five album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How can anyone not give this the maximum... 26 Aug 2009
By Nico
Format:Audio CD
This is a true modern masterpiece, it makes me well up each time I listen to it, it's between this and Champion Sounds for my favourite ever album, everyone will have their own opinion, but that's mine... ps, I know it dosn't mean much, but I've probably purchased about 800cd's in the last 2 yr's, and I def hold J Dee and Madlib closer to my heart than anyone..
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