Digesting a record that hits so close to home as being hand-in-hand with death, Donuts is primarily a distant and sporadic record that is able to relocate some of the finite beauty of production. It is a record that can be played both for your grandmother and hip-hop heads, a piece in the fabric of time that brings both tears of joy and despair within the same duct. Beginning with an outro, labeled more simply “Donuts (Outro),” the swiping samples of Dilla’s name that echo and then, in turn, morph into “Workinonit,” are stellar. There is an immediate connection to over 60 samples that set the backing for Dilla as he constructs this mad-scientist framework to assemble under.
More like a 31-course meal with appetizers replacing large selections, Dilla maneuvers through Donuts as this segueing machine that allows little space in-between tracks to exist. Even as the record faces the final track ironically named, “Welcome To The Show,” Donuts is enjoyable through every last bite. Whether it is the times with tracks like “Stop” that are able to be classical jam sessions with soulful samples that are a rendition of Dionne Warwick’s immaculate vocals over a boom-bap percussive snap. Or hearing the chaotic samples of Frank Zappa over these keys that are at first, intimidating and suspenseful, but then take a turn into the cheerful and almost playful style that Dilla can accentuate.
Donuts was only Dilla’s second “studio” record but contained a lifetime of ability that still even 14 years later, takes the Detroit producer to new heights. Before his passing, Dilla was able to oversee a new landscape for hip-hop and music that only further signifies the strength in dire times. Where the infinite loop begins, Dilla gives more than a baker’s dozen and establishes just how to craft a distinguishable swan song.