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The late J Dilla’s final project Donuts, created while the Detroit producer was in the hospital, is a beat tape turned into head-on confrontation with life and death. Slickly sliced soul samples do the talking (“You’re gonna want me back, in your arms,” Dionne Warwick sings) and its existential thematics are filtered through modest, low-stakes imagery — the circle of life manifested by way of Homer Simpson’s favorite treat — which just makes the thing even more devastating. Some samples ride out, while others are cruelly cut short, as if Dilla was trying to tweak time itself.

Panda Bear: I didn’t like it at first. It sounded really dense. I couldn’t find away into because it was so dense and it moved so fast. But then after listening to it a couple times, the speed of it? Once I got into that, anything slower than that seemed less stimulating.

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