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Music / Donuts

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Click here to see the original 12" cover. 

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. Largely in the instrumental hip hop genre, composed of remixed sampled content, the album was released on February 7, 2006, his 32nd birthday, and three days before his death.

In this sense, the album essentially functioned as Dilla's goodbye to his loved ones, his fans, and all of the hip-hop community. While the theme of mortality doesn't overtly manifest in the album's tracks, death definitely forms a conceptual undertone, what with some of the sample choices Dilla makes, and the album being structured as a perfect loop.

It's often claimed that Dilla created much of the album while bedbound in hospital, though this may be a myth. According to Dan Charnas' biography Dilla Time, the album began life as an earlier beat tape, and was edited and sequenced into its final album form by Stones Throw Records' art director Jeff Jank while Dilla was in hospital.

In terms of current-day legacy, the beats on Donuts have been used by a number of different rappers since the album's release. Also, as the album was named after Dilla's favorite food, donuts have become a lasting trademark for him, such that his uncle Herman Hayes started a donut shop in Detroit 10 years after its release named Dilla's Delights.


  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)

The Tropes of the Heart:

  • Alternate Album Cover: The CD release of the album depicts a headshot of Dilla, while the LP release features a drawing of a donut shop.
  • 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.
  • Epic Rocking: Although "Workinonit" is only 3 minutes long, it feels like this since it's surrounded by one- or two-minute tracks.
  • 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, but also serve as a good introduction if the album is played on loop.
    • The album itself. Dilla lived just long enough to see it released on his thirty-second birthday, but died just three days after.
  • Instrumental Hip Hop: 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".
  • Meaningful Name: "One for Ghost", which is a beat Ghostface Killah would sample soon after on his song "Whip You With a Strap."
  • 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)".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sampling: The main crux of the album, with samples from a multitude of sources and genres being utilized in Dilla's beats.
  • Sequel Song: "Stepson of the Clapper" is a follow-up to "The Clapper" from Dilla's debut, Welcome 2 Detroit.
  • Stop and Go: At one point in "Stop", all audio in the song cuts out for the quarter-beat after its main sample says "You better stop".
  • Theme Naming: Some tracks are named after actual types of donut flavors, or given donut-themed names.

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