J Dilla

Although he crafted beats for hip-hop's finest (A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Pharcyde, Busta Rhymes, Common), the name J Dilla, a.k.a. Jay Dee, is still largely unknown outside of hip-hop's cognoscenti. All that will change in '06 — if for no other reason than Donuts was released the same week as James Yancey's tragic, untimely death (see Outtakes for his obituary).

After two decades in the biz, Dilla here dropped only the second album to be released under his own name. Donuts is an instrumental opus, a nonstop mix filled with chopped-up deep funk and soul tunes, crazy electric-guitar samples, stumbling piano loops, and off-the-wall drop-ins by the Beastie Boys, Frank Zappa, and Wolfman Jack. A trippy tour de force, Donuts will leave heads shaking, and J Dilla will be sorely missed.

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