No Trivia

Dilla Donuts Month: "Stop!"


Hearing this in the wake of both the Sean Price and Usher tracks that flip the song into two separate samples is interesting, since Dilla takes both of the components of each song and practically just flips the arrangement and adds a few effects rather than doing anything drastic to it. The re-imagined structure sort of relays its own story, plus the Jadakiss squeal at the beginning is killer.


I’m hovering somewhere between late night and early morning.
Wine is slowly evaporating from my bloodstream.
My headphones are repelling the florescent mist that is buzzing overhead.
Soon the NYC Subway will float into the empty station.
And once again, in what is becoming a reoccurring coincidence, this song materializes from a shuffling deck…

Only a fool shoots himself out-of-the County Fair canon in hopes of landing in the Big Top circus.
Yet every year this magnetic city, imposing and mechanical, adds more humans to the assembly line of glass and metal.
The new entrants squeeze themselves into silver bullets, dart through tunnels, burst in every direction, and ricochet from one experience to another.
Gathering my bearings I too speed along the subway in this new city; hopeful that we can help each other redefine and create.
And so often I catch myself reciting my mission when this song appears.

-Thaddeus Clark


“You better stop and think about what you’re doing.”

This is the zen-like phrase that’s the heart of this song. It comes as a response to the Dionne Warwick sample that focuses intensely on the primal urge to feel needed. Dilla’s production, with Jadakiss’ laughing voice and underlying buzz, enhances the emotion in Warwick’s voice and helps hint at a hidden obsession. It’s the kind of depressed obsession that can consume your brain after a break up. But then Dionne’s back ups swing in and sing like a mantra “You better stop and think about what you’re doing.” The phrase parallels the zen tenant of being mindful of the present. To be aware of what’s going on right now and not just coasting through life or worrying about what might have been. When Dilla cuts the whole track after “Stop” it freezes me every time. I get so wrapped up in the feeling nostalgic about the past when Warwick is singing, but when the song literally stops it always snaps me back into the moment. Dilla gets you to experience the point he’s trying to make. Although I realize Warwick is speaking to her lost lover, I’ve always thought of it as Dilla speaking directly to me. As if before his death he attained enlightenment and was trying to pass it all on back to us through music.


Jesse is a contributor to the comics blog Are You A Serious Comic Book Reader?


I always think that Jadakiss cough-laugh-cackle is one of Donuts’ repeating sounds—like the siren or Ad-Rock—but it’s only on “Stop!” as an oddball kick-start to one of the saddest, most fucked-up tracks on the album. It’s because, like that wailing siren from “King of the Beats” or Ad-Rock’s signature obnoxiousness, Jadakiss’ “hahhhh!” is a weird sound of hip-hop history. One of those random-ass things that rap nerds joke about, quote, or imitate. Sure, plenty of rap songs lift past hooks or quotables, but just as many rap songs are based on some minor line or ad-lib. Hyper-obsessive trivia’s part of the game.

It’s really easy to imagine Dilla in 2004 hearing the song on the radio and falling in love with that introductory, kinda hilarious ca-caw. Repeating it with his friends, saying it at inopportune moments, you know the deal. Also, it’s one more example of Dilla’s weird ear.

That he’d think to isolate that Jadacroak is every bit as weird and completely logical as turning a Mantronix intro into Donuts signature sound-stamp or flipping a pretty famous Dionne Warwick song into a needy angry track about how he’ll be missed when he’s gone.

There’s a lot of arrogance in this track, telling the world he’s soon going to exit how much they’ll miss him, how much he’s been slept-on, etc. I’m reminded of “Believe In God” from numerous beat-tapes and eventually Jay Love Japan. “Believe in God” has a kind of wizened hubris to it, justified because Dilla’s sincere and trying to help—and dying…–but no less obnoxious. That song’s an order.

“Stop!” starts off as a kvetch and ends up as something else. Dilla shifts the context of Warwick’s words, so when she says “You better stop and think about what you’re doing” on Dilla’s “Stop!”, it doesn’t and can’t have the same meaning as the original. The shift from “you’re gonna miss me” to “you better stop…” isn’t upping the relationship ante, it’s a movement outward, not insular selfishness but a general, universal piece of advice for you to apply however you like.


I was in college when Donuts was released. On Valentines Day that year, I traveled home to be with my girl (of 4 years) at the time. Donuts was released a few days before her birthday and a week before Valentines Day. Then he died and it was kind of a shock. Then about a month later, I returned home again for Spring Break to see my girl. She broke up with me. Donuts was in my head at the time. Now, whenever I hear Donuts, I am reminded of extremely heavy feelings…but not necessarily bad feelings. “Stop” particularly tugged at my heart strings back then, and still does every time I hear it.

Think of someone in my shoes at the time. The standout detail is the lyrics of course. This bitch just dumped me out of nowhere, and “Stop” was my voice, speaking to her: “You’re gonna want me back! You’re gonna need me, want me!” and “You better stop and think about what you’re doin!”. I identified with all those quotes because they reminded me of my pride and gave me the (false?) reassurance that I am right and she was making a huge mistake in her life. When you get screwed, the only way to hang on to your pride is to delve into it. Dilla helped me with that on “Stop!”.

And yes, I could break down “Stop” physically/musically, but I probably couldn’t tell anyone reading this blog something they dont already know. Instead, I’d just like to explain how important emotions are in relation to music. If you name five of your favorite songs, I bet you $1 that they all invoke some unique and/or strong feelings at one specific moment in your life. That’s why your favorite song is your favorite song. It brings back strong feelings that were already forgotten by you and can only/will always be simulated when you listen to the song again. That is why the term “instant classic” is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. But it’s looking like “Stop” has got me churning more than I anticipated.


Steve’s blog is Ijuswannachill.

Written by Brandon

February 6th, 2009 at 9:38 am

Posted in Dilla, Donuts Month

2 Responses to 'Dilla Donuts Month: "Stop!"'

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  1. Dilla flips Jada saying its definitely real to "is death real?" and has samples to respond to the question by saying yes. its amazing.


    2 Mar 10 at 4:38 am

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