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Dilla Donuts Month: "U-Love"

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There’s way more record hiss and fuzz on “U-Love” than on the rest of Donuts. I imagine Dilla, like most diggers, had multiple copies of the same records in varying condition, and “U-Love” to the “Intro” sound made from the flood-damaged, a few centimeters thinner from too-many listens, scrawled on the fucked-up sleeve “PROPERTY OF THOMAS” or something copies, not the VG-Mint ones.

The fuzz give the tracks an even warmer, more personal feeling and starts to make deterioration and decay explicit, which is appropriate for obvious reasons. What saves this from being a depressive or obvious move is that fact that the conventional “end” of the album is noted as the “beginning” and so, as decomposition becomes more of a musical reality, the album moves closer towards beginning, starting-over…rebirth.

Despite (or in spite-of, or maybe most appropriately, because of) the decay, “U-Love” is one of Donuts‘ “perfect songs” in the sense of it’s this great loop, worked-on, and messed around with until there’s nothing odd or off about it–no “mistakes”, mind the quotes there–similar to “The Diff’rence”, “The Twister”, and “Gobstopper”. That it comes right after “The Factory” and that “The Factory” kinda acts as an overture for “U-Love” is perfect because Dilla’s trying to tie all these strands of sound and sub-genre and everything else together.

There needs to be one of those kinda expensive greetings cards that when you open it up they play a song, that plays “U-Love”. Even outside of the universal sentiment though, this song’s easy for pretty much everybody to get into. Plenty of sounds and clipped voices race around in the background, but there’s no jarring wordless vocals and part-of-a-second grunts, inhales, and exhales, just slightly-touched, super-sincere declarations of love with occasional emphasis (“I really love you…”) from Jerry Butler.


It’s 2006. I’m clutching the wheel of my stepsister’s Dodge Neon, cruising through Downtown Seattle. My then-girlfriend, a professed granola-eater, Devendra Banhart fan and avid conservationalist (what I’m trying to say is that she was a hippie), is somewhat boredly peering out of the window, eyes fixed on whatever buildings we’re passing by. She’s twirling the thick, blonde hair that she only combs twice a week. Donuts is blasting, I’m nodding my head, trying not to space out from all of the street lights shooting by us, and we’re holding hands. Occasionally, I peer over at her and make a funny face to see she’ll notice. Every time, she does, purses her lips, and playfully pokes me in the ribs. A piano and human voice quickly pops out of the stereo. Afterwards, horns start tugging at the heartstrings, and voices in soulful harmony sing, “Just because I really love you.” I start nodding my head a little more as more street lights whizz past us, looking like stationary stars as we’re floating through space or something. “I love you” repeats itself throughout the song, and goosebumps start rising on my arms as I take a lovingly look at the girl sitting next to me. I don’t know what the street lights did to her pale blue eyes, but they looked like they were glowing.

She clinches my hand a little tighter, kisses me on the cheeks, and says, “I like this.”

-Douglas Martin

Written by Brandon

February 27th, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Posted in Dilla, Donuts Month

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