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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 2 March 2006
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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on 26 January 2006
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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on 10 April 2015
This review is based upon the 7" vinyl box set, rather than the music - I feel I don't need to go over old ground on this; the album is fantastic - check it out as soon as you can! ***Also, to clarify: the three stars are for the vinyl set NOT the music - the album is five stars all the way.***

The set comes in a cardboard outer, with front opening flap, which was a little flimsy and slightly disappointing - hence the loss of a star. The next star is lost due to the set including no extras whatsoever; at this price, I would have expected something - perhaps a booklet / photographs / poster etc. The individual 7" records are packed in plain white inner sleeves, and require the use of a 45 spindle adapter (they have a larger centre hole punched out).

A nice collector's set, that could have been great, but in it's current form, for the price charged, the packaging and extras (of which, there are none) are poorly put together and presented IMHO.

Overall, a fantastic album - 10/10, but not such a fantastic vinyl set - 7/10.
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on 13 August 2006
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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on 4 October 2007
I'm not going to claim I was a massive Dilla fan before he died. I knew that he had connections with A Tribe Called Quest and Common, but that's about it -- and given the nature of music fans to name any deceased artist as a "tortured genius", albums like this should be approached with a clear mind. With Donuts though, the hype is well deserved.

What may initially sound jarring gains cohesiveness with further listens, creating a stream-of-consciousness style that continues through all 31 tracks. Each individual Donut offers something different as Dilla effortlessly twists old soul samples, combining them with some of the best beats in hip hop. Would this album have garnered so much attention had he not passed away? Probably not, but then it wouldn't have been the same album. Donuts is, after all, his parting message to the world; a man with a genuine love for music pouring his soul out onto record.
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on 30 January 2007
A work of beauty. A glimmering gem of musical honesty, delivered just days before the artist's untimely departure from this here planet. Lest we take for granted over a decade of seemless production skills and indellible beats n breaks, then this may well be the music to remember him by. At it's best, simply uplifting, head nodding, neck snapping frivolity. At it's core, a driving explosion of noise and frenetic ear drum bashing. It's painful and luscious in the same breath. Dilla's beats conjour up the meaning of hip hop. Briefly touching, always reminding you to be alive.

Enjoy fellow beat lovers...

This review was brought to you by the power that is De Stefano Gilberto.
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on 8 April 2010
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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on 30 April 2011
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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on 26 August 2009
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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on 19 January 2007
I ain't an oldhead, but I've evolved from hiphop to 'real' hiphop throughout the years.

I've experienced J Dilla beats on Common's Be, Pharcyde's Runnin' amongst others. I notice his work, usually stand-out tracks on cd's, before I even know it's him behind the music.

At first listen, some of the tracks on Donuts were messy/unorganized, I expected way too much of the album 'cause of the other reviews I read.

But some tracks are real awesome/greats - can't get enough of 'em!!

And the messy tracks, they actually work after the second listen or more.

The tracks are all less than 2 minutes, but in acceptable pieces, anyways you can put 'em on repeat.

All in all, it's a good one, makes you enjoy the music, the beats are varied, pick yours and do what you do!!

It deserves more than 3! I give it 4 stars.
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