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- Donuts 45 boxset by J Dilla
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10/10 Harry Customer review, 2nd February 2014
There are very few hip hop heads, professional or otherwise, who do not owe a debt of gratitude to J Dilla. His eclectic beat making style has influenced everyone from Roots linchpin Questlove to beat-scene kingpin Flying Lotus. Released only three days before his death, much of Donuts was made while James Yancey was in hospital. Despite this, it is considered by many to be his magnum opus. Dilla's indiscriminate approach to sampling raised questions even outwith the hip hop universe about artistic ownership, and whether or not speeding up Jackson 5 guitar hooks and making them central to a song's structure left you with a different work altogether. The general consensus was that it did when Dilla did it, and accordingly he will be remembered most of all for his ability to breathe life into forgotten pieces of music. Since 2006, there have been a slew of posthumous J Dilla releases, some great, and some inconsistent. It is hard to decide which of these albums, by an artist who was notoriously protective of unfinished music, offer a meaningful look into the never-ending supply of unreleased Dilla beats. However, we can be certain that Donuts is J Dilla at his best - sentimental and nostalgic, while also being forward-thinking and diverse. No one is suggesting that you can't properly listen to hip hop without a firing up a bifter, except maybe Snoop, but try firing up Donuts at the same time, and it's a sure thing you'll take a minute to consider one of the genre's greats next time you see someone 'just not GETTING Slum Village.'
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