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Dilla Donuts Month: "Hi"

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Fucking heartbreaking, like all good soul should be. My reference point for it is Fishscale, but regardless it’s a genius flip, wherein all of Dilla’s style comes out on display, the skittering and glitching out of the sample, the stop and start drums, and the premature clipping of the loops. Out of the few beats that were actually used for other people’s tracks, this is probably the one that was properly wrecked by the artist, and overall my favorite track on Donuts.



These last few tracks are both really clear in content and hard to pin-down or explain, which is kinda perfect. You just viscerally get them and feel them and the obvious titles like “Bye” or “Last Donut of the Night” just sorta verify what you already sense about them. “Hi” is a weird one though.

Weird because a small part of the impact of the next track “Bye” is contingent upon “Hi”. Even though “Bye” would work–and in a way work better–without “Hi”, the two tracks combined brilliantly reduce every single meaningful and meaningless reaction to the basic: When you meet, and when you say bye, literally, figuratively, whatever. And you can stretch that to meeting someone and them leaving this earth or reduce it to someone you talk to everyday and jumping on and off the phone with them. No matter what, there’s still this tangible beginning and end. Hi and then, Bye. It’s Zen-like in its reduction to the bare-bones.

Maybe Hemingway-like is more like it though because Donuts as a whole, is Zen-like and enlightened and all about how shit doesn’t have a beginning and end–from the album’s construction to the looping of records, it’s all circular–and “Hi” and “Bye” are that more visceral, maybe a little angry, hard-ass acceptance of borders and absolutes. That this very real but less “mature”–if more pragmatic–understanding of the world fits within the greater eccentric circle of Donuts is brilliant.

Beyond that inviting but wistful “Hi…”, Dilla swipes a few actual lines from the spoken-ish intro to “Maybe” by The Three Degrees. Particularly notable is the line about how she “hadn’t heard that voice in such a long time” making “Hi” less about first meetings and more about reconnection.

And the way the track stumbles back into and onto itself–those drums, that pluck of a bassline and some chimes or some shit going forward, back, forward back, punctuated by a “Hi…”–is like the song’s nostalgic for the moment while defining the moment as its happening. I get a sense it’s about the people that come back into your life after well, “such a long time”. When you’re sick and dying or big and famous (Dilla was both), I think odd but comforting reconnections only get exasperated.

Written by Brandon

March 1st, 2009 at 4:45 am

Posted in Dilla, Donuts Month

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