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Donuts is the second studio album released by American Hip-Hop producer J Dilla, and the final album released in his lifetime before his untimely death as a result of a rare blood disease and lupus. In that sense, the album was essentially his goodbye to his loved ones, his fans, and all of the hip-hop community. It was released on February 7, 2006, his 32nd birthday, and three days before his death. The album is mainly in the instrumental hip hop genre, composed of remixed sampled content.

The album was kickstarted primarily by Dilla's friends from the Los Angeles-based indie label Stones Throw visiting him in the hospital during summer 2005 and giving him a Boss SP-303 sampler and a 45 record player so he could continue making music in the hospital. Dilla ended up completing almost all of the album (29 of the 31 tracks) in the hospital. Donuts was named after Dilla's Trademark Favorite Food.

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Donuts was universally acclaimed by critics, receiving a number of perfect or near-perfect scores from a number of outlets. After Dilla's death, the album was respected even more, being praised as one of the best albums of the year and of the decade as a whole, and the beats on the album have been used by a number of different rappers since the album's release.


Tracklist:

  1. Donuts (Outro)
  2. Workinonit
  3. Waves
  4. Light My Fire
  5. The New
  6. Stop
  7. People
  8. The Diff'rence
  9. Mash
  10. Time: The Donut of the Heart
  11. Glazed
  12. Airworks
  13. Lightworks
  14. Stepson of the Clapper
  15. The Twister (Huh, What)
  16. One Eleven
  17. Two Can Win
  18. Don't Cry
  19. Anti-American Graffiti
  20. Geek Down
  21. Thunder
  22. Gobstopper
  23. One for Ghost
  24. Dilla Says Go
  25. Walkinonit
  26. The Factory
  27. U-Love
  28. Hi.
  29. Bye.
  30. Last Donut of the Night
  31. Welcome to the Show / Donuts (Intro)

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The Tropes of the Heart:

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: One interpretation of "Welcome to the Show" paints it as a representation of Dilla crossing over into the next life, or the "show".
  • Back to Front: The album begins with its outro and ends with its intro.
  • Book-Ends: The album has a cyclical and reversible nature. Its intro and outro being switched may seem tongue-in-cheek upon first glance, but it's actually pretty ingenious; the last two tracks of Donuts ("Last Donut of the Night" and "Welcome to the Show") make sense when interpreted both as the album's openers and closers, considering the nature of the album positions them both at the start and end simultaneously.
  • Continuity Nod: "Time: The Donut of the Heart" isn't the first time Dilla got to work with some of Michael Jackson's material.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: "Workinonit" and "Walkinonit", "Airworks" and "Lightworks", and "Hi" and "Bye".
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Several tracks from Donuts appeared on a now extremely rare 2005 beat tape, referred to by fans as MPC 3000.
  • Epic Rocking: Although "Workinonit" is only 3 minutes long, it feels like this since it's surrounded by one or two-minute tracks.
  • Excited Show Title!: "Stop" is sometimes stylized as "Stop!".
  • Face on the Cover: Of Dilla himself, taken from a frame of the music video for M.E.D.'s "Push", which Dilla produced.
  • Fading into the Next Song: A lot of the tracks flow into each other surprisingly well, given the variety of sounds on this album.
  • Foreshadowing: A snippet of the start of "Lightworks" plays around the very end of "Airworks".
  • Genre Roulette: Due to the eclectic sampling of the album, there are a number of different sounds that Dilla plays with, from normal hip-hop to tribal music. His mother has even testified that during production, he went over each beat to ensure that it was something unique.
  • Grand Finale: "Last Donut of the Night" as well as the album "intro" combine not only to serve a suitable finale for the album, showing Dilla looking back on his legacy, but also serve as a good introduction if the album is played on loop.
    • The album itself. Overlapping with Bittersweet Ending, Donuts was consciously crafted as a farewell to his fans and colleagues as his health rapidly deteriorated throughout 2005 because of lupus and an incurable blood disease. He lived just long enough to see it released on his thirty-second birthday, but died just three days after.
  • Instrumentals: Most of the tracks, if the vocals in the samples don't count.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Female moans can be heard throughout "Workinonit" and "Time: The Donut of the Heart".
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The vinyl cover of the album is rather simplistic, only consisting of a donut shop with a massive donut statue on top, a few lampposts, and a plane flying overhead.
  • Miniscule Rocking: A majority of the tracks are 1-2 minutes.
  • Nonindicative Name: The first track is called "Donuts (Outro)", while the final track is called "Donuts (Intro)".
  • Notable Music Videos: "Don't Cry", Two Can Win", and "Last Donut of the Night" got official music videos.
  • One-Word Title: "Workinonit", "Waves", "Stop", "People", "Mash", "Glazed", "Airworks", "Lightworks", "Thunder", "Gobstopper", "Walkinonit", "Hi", "Bye".
  • Recurring Riff: A variant; there's an alarm sound first introduced in "Workinonit" that is then heard multiple times throughout the album.
  • Sampling: The main crux of the album, with samples from a multitude of sources and genres being utilized in Dilla's beats.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: "Geek Down" and "Bye." (the latter under the title "So Far to Go") later appeared on Dilla's posthumous album The Shining a year later, with vocals from Busta Rhymes, Common, D'Angelo, and Dilla himself. Common and D'Angelo would release a different version of "So Far to Go" on the former's 2007 album Finding Forever.
  • Stop and Go: At one point in "Stop", all audio in the song briefly cuts out after its main sample says "You better stop".

I don't care what— jay— jayja— jayjay-ayjay-jay-jjj-JayDilla!
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