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Dilla Donuts Month: "People"

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Unlike the odd, hard-to-explain shift of emotion going on with Warwick’s vocals on “Stop!”, Eddie Kendricks’ intention is retained. I’m reminded of “Hold On, Be Strong” off Aquemini a similarly terse but direct plea to keep going. That mix of direct sincere emotion and politicized solidarity is at work, while perhaps, a more personal message to Dilla’s family and friends rumbles in the background.

The political’s obvious here, playing on the spaced-out music meets sloganeering politics that so many of Dilla’s peers and collaborators mined—some people call it “Neo-Soul”—but Dilla’s also telling everybody to keep it together as best they can when he’s gone. Those breaths from the Kendricks original get cut short and mechanically looped, turning them into some bizarre, other rhythm that pumps like an iron lung: Heavy.


New Amerykah Vol 1. makes a shitload more sense in the context of this beat. Besides the allusion to its hook, the trippyness of the isolated drums probably inspired a lot of the fuckery on the last Badu disc.



The transfer from Warwick’s cooing to Kendrick’s aggressive “People!”—used in the same enunciative way as Jada’s laugh—is jarring and maybe makes you think Donuts is gonna pick back up, but like Jada’s laugh, that initial energy belies the rambling soul of the track.

You’ll have to wait for the party that is “The Diff’rence” for Dilla to pick up the pace, because “People” is a few moments of clouds-parting clarity sandwiched between wandering rhythms and drowsy breaths. A minute in’s that cloud-parting moment, when Dilla finally lets Kendricks’ empowered but weary hook play-out but then, “People” falls back into itself with the arrival of the siren. It rambles out a few seconds, and then’s cut–like every track–mid-beat or mid-vocal; you’d feel unsatisfied if something just as awesome wasn’t immediately gonna pop up next.


-Also, on the month-long, like obsessive blogging tip, Big Media Vandalism’s got “Black History Mumf” going on, and We Eat So Many Shrimp has 30 Best Gucci Mane Tracks of 2008 happening. David from Shrimp also has a ridiculously great review of Freeway’s “Month of Madness” over at Pitchfork. I was reading the piece like “Woah, this is good, smart writing” but not in a way that reads like “Heeeyyyy! I’m good smart writingggg” (read that in the voice of Macaulay Culkin in Party Monster) and then I looked at who wrote it and it all made sense.

-Renato from Until the Train Stops added something to the “Workinonit” entry:

“Dilla isolates the first guitars heard on “The Worst Band in the World” (10cc, 1974) for “Workinonit,” but as is typical of James Yancey, instead of zigging he zags and chooses another (and less obvious) guitar lick for the foundation of the track. Not because this lick is sweeter or more memorable, but precisely because it is less so than the chords that open the 10cc song. Here Dilla gets right what 10cc got wrong—you don’t show your hand before the last card is dealt. He holds off introducing the guitars until the last possible moment, and even when Dilla finally introduces them, he introduces the first of the two chords by itself, and we’re forced to wait another ten seconds until he rewards us with the second chord and thus the complete sample. And just like that girl who doesn’t put out on the first night, because Dilla makes us wait the payoff is all the more worth it—and in the process he transforms mere guitars into instruments able to part the fabric of the universe and let infinity rush in. Woosh.”

-Just got an entry in my e-mail for “Stop!” from Steve. It’s been added.

-The guys who made this Dilla mix called Midnight Snack sent me an e-mail and is a pretty good mix, that seems focused on the jazz and electronic side of Dilla’s productions more than the soul and funk side. “Midnight Snack” mixer RP3 and “Stop!” writer Steve get a slide for sort of seeming like they’re pimping their shit as much as they are contributing because this is about Dilla and he’s all groovy and peace and love peaceandlove–right?–and because you know, the mix was good and the “Stop!” piece seems damn honest, but uh, just saying…please contribute but be less egregious about it.

Written by Brandon

February 7th, 2009 at 5:05 am

Posted in Dilla, Donuts Month

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