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Celebrate Donut Day with J Dilla, Tori Amos, Parquet Courts and More

by Ryan Book   Jun 5, 2015 14:52 PM EDT

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Homer Simpson and those like him are stoked for National Donut Day, especially as it falls on a Friday...a perfect introduction to the weekend. Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Tim Horton's and other retailers of the decentralized pastries are all offering special deals on their popular products. So go take care of that need...but when you get back, check out this list of music that focuses on the most American of breakfast staples (indeed, many culinary historians suggest that Dutch immigrants invented the pastry in the United States). Tori Amos, RiFF RaFF and, of course, J Dilla, make appearances.

J Dilla

No individual in pop culture—outside of Homer Simpson, of course—has done more to promote donuts than J Dilla. The Detroit native was stuck in the hospital as the result of blood disease TTP (thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura) during 2005, and his pals at Stones Throw Records provided him with a Boss SP-303 sampler and a small record player so that he could keep himself occupied. Reports suggest that 29 of the 31 tracks on his next album, Donuts, were created during that time period. Few outside of the hip-hop community appreciate the musical side of the game, unlike in rock and other instrument-based genres, yet Donuts drew universal praise and was named among the best hip-hop albums of the decade, despite nary an original lyrics appearing. Unfortunately, Dilla would die from his condition a mere three days after the album was released, leaving a world that had largely just discovered his work in shock. Those in the hip-hop community, already aware of Dilla's talents, have made sure to use the beats from Donuts in their own work, both as a tribute and just because the dude knew what he was doing with a sampler. Nas, Drake and Ghostface Killah are among those who have borrowed from the album. As for the name, his mother claimed that the DJ simply loved the pastry (although the shape of a 7" record may provide an alternative explanation).

"Time: The Donut of The Heart" by Miguel Lopez

J Dilla's association with donuts is so heavy that we couldn't help but include another one of his works into this list. Although many artists have used the beat "Time: The Donut of The Heart" (Drake, most notably, used the track for his "Where To Now" from Comeback Season) but none capture the essence of the song quite as well as Miguel Lopez's song of the same name. The performer paid special tribute to Dilla as the cut came from an album titled Donuts, But with Lyrics. The metaphor held within the title of the track isn't too tough to decipher...if J Dilla's eating habits were any indicator, time is like donuts because it's always gone too soon.

The Donut Man

Rob Evans has toured the United States for more than 30 years, specializing in sing-alongs and children's music that teach the history and lessons of Christianity, accompanied in concert by Duncan the Donut, a professionally-developed puppet. The name of the organization he works from? The Donut Repair Club. "I've read a decent amount of the Bible," you say. "I don't see the pastry connection." His theory is that humanity is much like a donut...we're all essentially good but we're missing something in the center, and that something is the love of Christ. He's sold more than 6 million CDs and DVDs of his work, and also stars in a show based around the Donut Man character on the EWTN network.

"Rap Game Donut Sprinkles" by RiFF RaFF

Granted, not everyone who performs songs based on donuts are actually singing about the delicious, baked version. RiFF RaFF takes a very different approach to the concept of donuts within hip-hop...as he does with most topics. The "Rap Game Donut Sprinkles" that he refers to in this track aren't comprised of sugar at all, but hydrocodones. As in, vicodin, percocet, and not just in the painkiller sense. Kids, if you're going to take any rap song about donuts literally today, make sure that it's one of J Dilla's tracks.

"Doughnut Song" by Tori Amos 

First thing's first...we might as well give some sort of pat on the back to Tori Amos for being the only performer on this list to use the original and correct spelling of "doughnut" (however not even your correspondent is snide enough to pretend he cares how you spell "donut"). That said, there's very little time actually dedicated to the subject of doughnuts within this track. One of the opening lines involves the wisdom that "you'll never gain weight from a donut hole." She references to the actual hole in the donut, not the also-popular round bits of dough sold as "donut holes" at breakfast restaurants. This metaphor, if taken in context with the rest of the song, suggests that Amos doesn't see the point in continuing with a relationship if it won't ultimately result in something more meaningful.

"Donuts Only" by Parquet Courts

Dunkin' Donuts may have sprung to other options, such as selling bagels, breakfast sandwiches and hash browns, but Brooklyn's Parquet Courts are keeping it conservative with its "Donuts Only" declaration off of Light Up Gold. Actually, if the song is doing anything conservative, it's a reference to the state of Texas and its conservative approach to life, as the rest of the song describes "Baptist fervor" and high school football traditions. Where do donuts come into play? Apparently the more delicious variant of O-shaped baked good represents Republicans, as the band sings "As for Texas, donuts only / you won't find bagels here." We're sure that there are at least a few Democrats who think things are the other way around in terms of party identification.

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