J Dilla - Donuts
Without J Dilla, you can kiss Kanye, Jay Z, Pharrell, and pretty much any rapper or producer working today goodbye. What makes Dilla so special is the way he utilized sampling, taking a section of an existing instrumental or vocal, isolating it, and transforming it into something new. Sampling is the foundation of hip-hop, and although he wasn't the first, Dilla is arguably the best. The way he took soulful, vintage classics and turned them into a hip-hop friendly beat was revolutionary.
You have likely heard a few beats from 2006's Donuts, as every rapper in the world has rapped over a Dilla beat at one point or another, but to hear why he is so highly regarded, you’ve got to listen to the original. The way he manages to take a few seconds of a classic R&B or soul tune and change it while still keeping the magic feeling of the original is otherworldly. You get the same heartwarming, nourishing feeling listening to his flip of Al Green as you do listening to Al himself. Dilla, an obsessive vinyl fanatic, deserves to be listened to through the medium to which he devoted his life.