J Dilla – Donuts: #537 of best 1,000 albums ever!

J Dilla - Donuts

So why is J Dilla’s Donuts on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

Donuts is a sample-based, mostly instrumental record that puts soul, jazz, rock, and funk into a blender serves it up as a tasty hip hop concoction all its own. It’s an album that perhaps at first feels like a bunch of separate pieces, but I’m convinced that the more you sit with it that it becomes more than the sum of its parts.

“Workinonit” is the track that gave me my first indication of J Dilla’s genius. What sounds like car revving noises, Beastie Boys samples dating back to License to Ill, pinging electronic noises, a single guitar chord playing once in a while, female vocals joyfully singing, “Workin’ on it!” And that only describes some of what’s going on, really. It’s a wild sound collage that’s not quite like anything I’ve ever heard before.

I’m always a sucker for a good cover of The Doors, and in fact, Donuts represents the third album on the best 1,000 albums ever list to date (more might be coming!) that has covered “Light My Fire” specifically*.

* The others are Ultra-Lounge: On the Rocks (#955) and The Mike Flowers Pops’ A Groovy Place (#839).

“Light It” has a hippie hippie love version of the “Light My Fire” chorus playing in the background, while shimmery samples and other sounds float over it, making for a strange yet pleasing thirty-five second loop.

The Beastie Boys also make an appearance on “The New,” which plays off the B-Boys’ “The New Style.” “The New” adds horn samples and other fun vocal effects.

Pop culture stuff that has something to do with J Dilla’s Donuts

For yet another cover of The Doors’ “Light My Fire,” Type O Negative does a version that is insanely different than the others I mention above, and in fact it’s a really incredible hard metal-meets-goth take on the classic.

Some stats & info about J Dilla – Donuts  

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Hip Hop, Instrumental
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #386
  • All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Donuts released? 2006
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #537 out of 1,000

J Dilla’s Donuts on Spotify

What’s the most interesting thing about J Dilla’s Donuts that most people don’t know?

J Dilla’s death at the young age of 32 was a huge loss to the music world. He had a rare combination of musical talent and creative vision. His impact on the music industry was significant, and his influence can be heard in the work of countless artists who came after him.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.