All posts by Andrew Rossbach

Donuts: The best album you have never heard of

J Dilla’s magnum opus Donuts is the best album you have never heard of. J Dilla is regarded as one of the best Hip-Hop producers ever. Anyone who enjoys 90s Hip Hop has probably listened to a J Dilla-produced song. Donuts, unlike Dilla’s former albums, was an entirely instrumental album. Dilla’s voice is not heard during the album, yet Donuts carries a vibe that most instrumental music fails to portray.

Donuts has multiple meanings. Dilla loves donuts, something his friends would bring him during their weekly vinyl drop-off while Dilla was in the hospital. Donuts also represented the album’s flow, songs do not end, but they are only interrupted by the next song. Tracks suddenly stop once the listener gets the hang of the song. This is a perfect metaphor for how life is always bringing new challenges and exciting moments. Although the album has 31 total tracks, the album’s run time is only 43 minutes. The run time shows that life will go by quick, and you need to cherish every moment.

One of the reasons this album is so excellent is the context of Dilla’s life during the creation of Donuts. Dilla, in 2005 was diagnosed with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and lupus. Dilla’s family almost went bankrupt due to his medical bills and treatments he received, like dialysis. This caused Dilla to produce twenty-nine of the album’s thirty-one tracks from his hospital bed in Los Angeles in the summer of 2005. Dilla rushed to complete Donuts as he couldn’t walk and could barely speak. During the making of Donuts, Dilla’s mom, Maureen Yancey, was always beside him. She would massage his fingers when he was too weak to use a 45-rpm record player and a Boss Sp 303 Sampler. Donuts was released on February 7th, 2006, his 32nd birthday. Unfortunately, Dilla passed away three days after Donuts was released.

Despite his success later in life, Dilla came from humble beginnings. Dilla was born James Dewitt Yancey on February 7, 1974, in Detroit, Michigan. Dilla came from a music background; His mother was a singer, and his dad played piano and bass. During high school, Dilla would meet T3 and Baatin. The trio would later get together again to form the group Slum Village. Dilla, throughout the 1990s, would work with artists such as Janet Jackson, The Pharcyde, Tribe Called Quest, Q Tip, De La Soul, and Busta Rhymes. In the 2000s, Dilla started rapping, and he recorded Welcome 2 Detroit, Jay Dee Volumes 1 and 2, Rough Draft, and then a collaborative album with fellow legend, Madlib called Champion Sound.

Dilla, in these projects, showed a love for the Production Center (MPC) 3000 and sampling machines. With these projects, Dilla had asserted his soul sample-heavy, with loud percussion style. Quest Love of the Roots said about Dilla, “One of the strangest things about Dilla was he wasn’t even a musician in the classic sense, he just had a sound in his head and was able to put it onto tape flawlessly.” Kanye West called Dilla “a drum god.” Dilla in these first albums sounded very mediocre and average in terms of his rapping, but his production was outstanding.

Donuts starts very weirdly with its Outro titled by the same name. J Dilla had switched the intro and outro. Collin Robinson, a music journalist for Shoegaze, says, “it’s almost too perfect a metaphor for Dilla’s otherworldly ability to flip the utter expletive out of anything he sampled.” This twelve-second beat is by far the prettiest in the album. The album’s last song also fits perfectly into the first song, which makes a perfect transition and helps fit the album’s circular nature. Right after those twelve seconds, the album takes a dark cut with the track Workinonit. Workinonit is a homage to Dillas’ hometown as you hear the sounds of speeding cars going by. The first third of this album signifies Dilla’s early life growing up in Detroit. The fact that the outro is the intro and vice versa also shows that Dilla will die in the same setting as he was born – in a hospital surrounded by family. The album continues in this continual flow, just like a river. The only things that change throughout the album are the samples Dilla uses. These samples were given to Dilla by his friends, who would fill crates full of records weekly and give them to Dilla to listen to. Dilla, being from Detroit, had a close relationship with the soul music of Motown that is often forgotten about with people of this generation.

Through Donuts, Dilla reinvented soul music and packaged it for a modern audience to consume. Young people who listen to music now often fail to recognize that almost all their favorite rap songs are sampled from a soul song. Don’t Cry, Last Donut of the Night, Bye, Time: The Donut of the Heart, involve samples from the Jackson 5, Charles Sherrel, The Moments, Gene Chandler, Stevie Wonder, The Escorts, and The Temptations. The song Don’t Cry is dedicated to his younger brother. Donuts talks a lot about Dilla’s mortality. One For The Ghost could be interpreted as death, but also this song was made for Ghost Face Killa from Wu-Tang. One For The Ghost leads into the song Go.

Go is a message about his passing and how he has come to terms with it. The sample throughout says, “come on, baby, go, it is all right.” U Love is dedicated to fans of Dilla. Throughout the track, the listener is told that we are loved by Dilla through a sample of the Commodores. The following two songs are called Hi., and Bye. Bye. It wasn’t the last beat of the album, but it was the last beat of his illustrious career. Last Donut of the Night then hits the ears with such rhythm and beat it is hard not to dance to. Donuts’ sadder songs acknowledge how tragic and sad the present moment is only to find an optimistic tone.

The album is then wrapped up with the upbeat Welcome to the Show, all about how Dilla has accepted his death. The song he sampled was even called When I Die, where the ending of this song has a beat switch that matches perfectly with the first beat of the album. Donuts is an album all about Dilla confronting death in a way no other album can compare to. Without saying a word, Dilla, through samples and song titles displays a specific mood with each song. Donuts would even inspire new sub-genres of Hip Hop such as Lo-Fi. All the greats had great instruments for making music. Jimmi Hendrix had his guitar. Louie Armstrong had a trumpet. J Dilla had an MPC.

Andy Rossbach is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Coach Pat Clatchey: A Baltimore basketball legend

Mount St. Joseph High School, where Coach Pat Clatchey has coached for 30 years, is considered a premier basketball program because of the hard work put in by Coach Clatchey, and staff.

Pat Clatchey has been the head basketball coach at Mount Saint Joseph for 30 years. In those 30 years, a lot has changed in the game of basketball, and just coaching in general, and how coaches treat their student-athletes. I have had the pleasure to know coach Clatchey since I was young. I would always attend his basketball camps, and through those camps, we got to know each other. Coach Clatchey in many ways is an old-school Italian coach. He preaches toughness and defense. He also has a great personality and is just entertaining.

Coach Clatchey, in January of 2020, won his 700th game. Clatchey deserves the recognition of being one of the great high school coaches this town has seen, including Bob Wade, Pete Pompay, and William Cain. So I decided to sit down and ask Clatchey some questions to get his take on things that span his career and life. I also got the privilege to ask Clatchey’s Assistant Coach and professional trainer, coach Jordan. I also went to numerous basketball camps and have been able to get to know coach Jordan. Jordan has been a part of the Mount St. Joseph coaching staff for a couple of years now.

Clatchey has seen a lot of change in basketball and the Mount during his time at Saint Joe. From the prominent role the three-point has taken in basketball and the building of the smith center, Clatchey has had to adapt to a lot of changes. When I asked Coach what changed the most since he started coaching, he said, “Well, this is my thirtieth year coaching here; there have been a lot of changes, but I would say the most obvious is going to be the influence of AAU basketball, and probably social media.” Clatchey, to those who know him, is well known for being against AAU basketball. When asked about AAU, Coach said, “It involves more people in the player’s circle than needed.” In my time knowing Clatchey, he would go on long rants about AAU basketball and how it is killing the game. Coach often cites how it is a money grab and not real basketball due to the absence of the team aspect. AAU is like 5 1v1s at the same time.

I asked coach Jordan how AAU and social media have affected his coaching at MSJ and his job as a personal trainer. “My training business with social media helps me promote and reach out to others.” Jordan said, “In terms of basketball, it’s made it harder to recruit. A lot of kids feel now they are superstars…most kids feel like a star, and as a coach, you feel obligated to adjust with what they do. They feel entitled that social media praises them.” Coach Jordan adds this about coach Clatchey, “What the coach says is what the players should listen to, unlike social media.”

Clatchey had also recently been invited to watch a Cleveland Cavaliers practice. With such changes in the sport, I asked Coach if his philosophy had changed in his 30 years of coaching. He said, “As years go by, you know more and different concepts from college coaches and pro coaches, and did you know I spent a lot of time studying coaches in Europe and look to learn and improve and better myself as a coach. So I would say some changed, but some stayed the same.” I asked the same question to coach Jordan, and he said, “I have been around Coach for about 7 years now. He has changed since he started. Of course, when he first started, they weren’t that good…His core values have not changed, but he has changed based on the generation of players because, of course, each generation is different.”

Coach Clatchey has also coached some truly great players. From Jaylen (Stix) Smith to Dino Gregory, he has had some legends on his team. So I asked Coach Clatchey: What player do you think made the biggest leap that you coached? Coach Clatchey commented, “I can throw out a lot of names, and most recently, it would probably have to be Jason Edokpayi his senior year. He was a guy who always had some talent and ability, but he could never be consistent for some reason. Then his senior year, he was outstanding and helped us win the championship, and he put him into a position to get a college scholarship.”

Also, Clatchey has played against some truly great teams, so I asked him: What is the best team you have ever coached against? He said, “Probably the team that in 2006, well we were 32-0 and we lost our last game to DeMatha, and I probably think that was the most talented team that we have played against. Just for the fact that they probably had about ten or eleven Divison I players, and every one of those guys was capable of scoring double figures. Then we played Oak Hill, I think it was around the same time in 2008; they were very good, and I think we lost by 8. In the league, there are a lot of great teams, but those two are probably the best.”

I followed up and asked if he ever coached against Carmelo Anthony and if he was the best player he’s coached against, and he said, “I did…Well, I don’t know about that we beat them by 28 his junior year. He was good. Rudy Gay played in our league and never won a game against us. He was good. We have had some good players and a good team too.”

Clatchey surprised me with a lot of answers, especially on how the game changed. Clatchey has seen a lot of change in his 30 years of coaching. He is a bank of basketball knowledge from leaving the MSA to joining the MIAA and seeing many Hall of Famers caliber players during his time as a coach. All in all, I think there is no more knowledgeable man about the game of basketball in this area. Coach Clatchey is truly a legend!

Andy Rossbach is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

How a checklist saved my life


Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on

In late August, I went out on my board to do something I had done hundreds of times this summer but little did I know, disaster would strike. Hurricane Henri was roaring up the coast at this time, with an expected landfall on Long Island. I knew the water would be rough, so I asked my dad to fetch me my duck fins from the car. While I was waiting, I became anxious and decided to go in without the fins. My goal was to catch 3 waves then head back to my chair. My cousin Rachel, her two kids, and my sister Molly were the only people on the beach except for a few families. Rachel tends to be very anxious about the ocean. I promised her I would be careful. Once I got out, the water was perfect. It was light blueish green with a temperature that made you feel like you were on Oahu. I kept my attention towards the ocean at all times because if I were to look away for just a second, a wave could crash down onto me, and I could get “tombstoned.” I started noticing a heavy push and water change in the water around me. I didn’t think much of it until I started hearing a whistle. I looked back and saw how far I had drifted away from the beach. I panicked for a second until I realized some things my dad has always preached to me. 

Number one is when you are about to panic about something, make a checklist to get you back into reality. Number two is all the things my dad has told me about the ocean since I was young. So after I thought for a second, I devised my checklist.

  1. Take big breaths 
  2. Center Yourself
  3. Swim Sideways 
  4. Swim Fast and hard 
Photo by Pixabay on

The checklist brought this feeling of comfort; at that moment, others would panic, I stayed strong. I felt in the moment like a navy seal. The only thing I was worried about was the lifeguard coming to get me because there would be no way for her to save me due to the size of the waves and the strength of the current. I slowly made my way back to shore, which was prompted by my family losing their minds thinking they lost me. Rachel then told me the lifeguard wanted to speak with me. She made it seem like I was going to get yelled at, but the lifeguard said I was the first person to ever get out of a Riptide safely, and she saw I was doing the right thing, which comes from my checklist, so she didn’t feel like it was necessary to do a rescue. She then proceeded to ask me if I was a local since I handled the situation so well. After that, I went back to our chairs to get yelled at by Rachel for scaring her, but my dad was very proud because of things he has taught me and shown throughout the years were used to save my life most likely. 

Andy Rossbach is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.