No Trivia

Dilla Donuts Month: "Gobstopper"

leave a comment

-Zilla Rocca “Continental Breakfast” (“Gobstopper” Freestyle)

Since I rapped on this beat back in ‘06, I’ve heard Redman and Rah Digga get on this joint via Dilla-inspired mixtapes and blends. It’s kinda cool, but I always thought the horns were melancholy and not triumphant nor funky. I wrote some personal bars that ended up using on another beat that never was released. I remember someone said in an interview after Dilla passed that he was so slept-on as a producer because the primary focus of most hip hop producers is to make “anthem” beats, and I think “Gobstopper” is the perfect example of why he was so dope. He could do club shit and rider jawns, but a beat like this sounds like his pain…and it’s still knocking.

Zilla Rocca is co-founder of Beat Garden Entertainment, blogs at Clap Cowards, is one half of Clean Guns along with Nico the Beast, and one half of 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers, with another (soon-to-be) Donuts Month contributor Douglas Martin.


Dilla uses the same song (“To the Other Man” by Luther Ingram), for “Gobstopper” and the next track, “One for Ghost”. This is important because in some ways, it’s a violation of beatmaker code, and even though every law set-out by producers gets violated by the best and worst, there’s something especially “egregious” about using the same–however dope–sample on two different songs, right next to each other.

But it works because Dilla’s not flipping something super-obvious and his producer magic, like actual producer shit (processing, mixing, shifting, quantizing or not-quantizing, in short– beyond looping and chopping) makes both song’s shared sample source unrecognizable.

It’s an example of Donuts‘ rarified freedom–like Dilla just totally went for it, not caring if he re-used a sample (he puts the songs next to one another to further highlight that he doesn’t care), the same way he’s not even concerning himself with “beats” in the sense of “stuff to be rapped-on”…just doing whatever he felt like it, so that it’s all just music, or better yet, plain old sound, as those half-vocals breathing or creeping through might attest. Many have found ways to rap on stuff from Donuts–because anything can be rapped over, but it’s clear that these songs were made without rappers in-mind.

So, fun but depressive horns flare-up and fall down and just keep going and going (everlasting I guess), occasionally punctuated by a homesick squeal that could be a balloon deflating or some home-made fireworks launched by your tipsy dad on the 4th or maybe even some rickety leftover RPG careening across the air–if “Anti-American Graffiti” is still on your brain. My vote’s fireworks though, because it has that kind of fun but exhausted, weary warmth of like the six o’clock news on a Saturday, or the theme from Cheers or TAXI or something. The ideal soundtrack for a re-reading of Dan Clowes “Like a Weed, Joe” from his Caricature collection.

Tired and worn-down, but not from apathy but for lack of energy expended on something worthwhile hours before. That wandering bassline’s almost bouncy, trying to get the rest of “Gobstopper” up a few pegs, but never over-taking the rest and sounding more like the part of the song that didn’t get the memo that shit’s melancholy right now.

Maybe there’s something to the round-ness of a Gobstopper connecting to the circular junk-food imagery of a donut beyond just Dilla being into junk food (heartwarming stories of ice cream in the hospital) but I’m not sure how to parse it out and I think it’s one of those moments on Donuts that just feels full of crazy caves of meaning for people close to Dilla or just Dilla himself.


I wonder if Dilla titled this track “Gobstopper” as a nod to Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Maybe it was his way of saying to all the beat jacking Slugworths out there, you can’t get this recipe. And even if you could, you couldn’t flip a sample like me even with directions. The loop in this beat is everlasting in its own right. It hardly changes up and yet I don’t care and I bet a lot of people feel the same way. He found a great part of Luther Ingram’s “To The Other Man”, and extended it, long enough that you were satisfied and short enough that you didn’t get bored.


Written by Brandon

February 23rd, 2009 at 3:46 am

Posted in Dilla, Donuts Month

Leave a Reply