Donuts Are Forever 4 @ The Bell House – 2.6.10

Last night I attended Part 3 of the J Dilla tribute festivities in NYC, the ever-growing “Donuts Are Forever (DAF).” Now in its fourth year, this event brings together fans of J Dilla’s music from all over the country. The concept is simple: come and listen to music by the late, great producer all night, enjoy free donuts and make new friends while dancing the night away. It was at the 2nd DAF that I met Brokn.Englsh, Fly Lady Di and DJ Evil Dee, and they are still very present in my circle of friends and colleagues.

I arrived at The Bell House in Brooklyn shortly after 9:30pm to find a few people already waiting on line outside. After press check-in, I discovered a line of people inside as well; the flyer said “EARLY ARRIVAL SUGGESTED” for good reason, as DAF events pack out early! For a minimum donation of $5 (of which the proceeds will benefit the J Dilla Foundation, we were treated to music by DJ Brainchild, DJ Tara (also one of the founders of Rare Form NYC, which put on the event), DJ Lowkey, DJ Parler and ?uestlove of the Legendary Roots Crew! There were also mountains of donuts to snack on and fly t-shirts for sale.

As the crowd started to fill up the venue, I made my rounds and was happy to see some faces I haven’t seen in a long time, like King Texas (a phenomenal photographer!), Tanya Morgan (who hosted last year’s DAF) and Lemu of Gak City (who is responsible for one of my favorite photo days ever, the 4th Annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival). I also scored a Dilla pin by this guy (who gave me his because he ran out of the ones he passed out at the party):

By 11pm, only one hour after doors opened, I went outside to scope out the crowd. It was DOWN THE BLOCK… DAF staff was passing out donuts to to people outside while they waited.

No guestlists here: my phone started blowing up as the venue started to reach capacity and the venue staff stopped letting people in… I went back inside, where Tatyana Fazlalizadeh was doing live art:

Around midnight, J Dilla’s mom, Ma Dukes came in with the J Dilla Foundation staff. My homegirl Jessica Estevez of had been rolling with them all day and was part of the entourage =)

?uestlove arrived soon after, and the crowd went wild when he hit the stage, as DJ Brainchild continued to warm up the crowd.

Right before ?uestlove started his set, Ma Dukes took the stage to address the crowd. It was a moment where the room was unified in love and solidarity for her son, and I definitely felt the emotion in the room. My favorite moment was when Ma Dukes put a J in the air after speaking to those in attendance.

?uestlove started his set, and the energy in the room ignited… it reached a fevered pitch when he played “Raise It Up”; Tanya Morgan, Dee Phunk (one of the founders of Rare Form) and company jumped on stage and hyped up the crowd. The crowd returned the energy, chanting “RAISE IT UP! RAISE IT UP!”

Tatyana finished her piece, and I can’t imagine what was going through Ma Dukes’ mind as she admired the painting of her son…

In the lounge, DJ’s Tara, Parler and Lowkey played more Dilla treats…

Backstage, people dropped in to greet Ma Dukes, including DJ Spinna and Pen of Leroy Jenkins.

Pen gave Ma Dukes a set of baby photos of Dilla that were given to him while working on a project. Ma Dukes proudly showed them off to myself, Joey Too Fresh of and Richard Louissaint, who were in the room at the time. I felt privileged to take part in such a private moment.

Later, Tara and Dee Phunk came and presented Ma Dukes with a bouquet of flowers as a gesture of appreciation, and vowed to continue to do all they could to support the J Dilla Foundation in the future.

Yet another very emotional moment in a night of many…

Check out more photos below. Shouts to Dee Phunk, Tara, Eric and the whole Rare Form team for putting together this event, as well as all the DJ’s, staff and volunteers. And of course, thanks to everyone who came out and continues to support this great event and noble cause. Donuts Are Forever 4 is now in the history books; don’t miss the next one!

Happy Birthday, J Dilla. R.I.P.

5 Responses to “Donuts Are Forever 4 @ The Bell House – 2.6.10”
  1. Dee Phunk says:

    Liz, thanks so much for being a part of this event. Your shots are INCREDIBLE. I might have to steal a couple for the personal collection LOL. xoxoxo

  2. FROactiv says:

    I LOVED this post, Liz. Great blog – Keep up the good work! :))

  3. JwaStar says:

    That was great! it was like livin thru it again! Good job. Great pics!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] it’d obviously been a long time because i forgot my ID.  luckily i didn’t have to stand outside while he went back for it. we danced and had a grand ole time until the morning. absolutely loved both brainchild & Questo’s sets. Great pics and more pics from the event: here and here. […]

  2. […] Last year was my third year attending Donuts Are Forever. It’s an event that I look forward to every year. It doubles as my anniversary of meeting Brokn.Englsh, DJ Evil Dee and Fly Lady Di =) Last year was my first time meeting Ma Dukes, J Dilla’s mother. As with every year, I always get goosebumps at some point in the night from all the love and positivity in the room, and it’s always and emotional evening. To say that the place was packed is an understatement! Special thanks to Rare Form for allowing me to cover this event. I’m looking forward to DAF5 at Santos next month! Check out my event recap here. […]

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