Donuts began simply enough as an idea to turn a particularly good demo beat tape into a full-length release, and has since became a classic hip-hop album and defining work of the artist's life. Completed during a year J Dilla spent mostly in a hospital bed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Donuts would gain particular poignancy when only three days after it's release the artist passed away, February 10, 2006, losing his battle with a rare blood disease.
Announced in Fall 2005 when the seriousness of Dilla's condition was still unknown to the general public, the concept of a “rap album without rappers” stuck some as novelty or a release of lesser importance. Donuts would prove to easily transcend the rigid definitions of what an album of its time could be. It played part like a DJ mix, part like a hip-hop beat maker at work, with songs starting and stopping unexpectedly, like someone turning the dial on an imaginary radio station. But it was unmistakably a modern album, and one which perfectly encapsulated the artist's reputation among his peers and fans as a top-rated architect of soulful hip-hop.