It's amazing how powerful a photo can be. The other day I received an email from Kory, a driver and Mentor in LA and member of the Creative Collective. I'm always excited when drivers send me photos of iconic landmarks in their city, but I was speechless when I opened this attachment in Kory's email:
For the unfamiliar, that's Randy's Donuts, LA's quintessential 24-hour drive-through pastry experience. This massive and delicious-looking obelisk can be found near LAX where the 10 and 405 freeways intersect (if you're an LA resident, you probably already knew that).
Why did this photo take my breath away? Well, besides being a lifelong donut enthusiast, I also have a strong connection to Randy's Donuts via this album cover. Check out the resemblance:
J Dilla's instrumental hip-hop masterpiece Donuts is without a doubt my favorite record of all time. You've tasted Dilla's musical flavor if you've heard Slum Village, De La Soul, The Pharcyde, or Common, but nothing compares to the raw emotion and auditory precision Jay Dee achieved with Donuts.
Still, this is more than just a great record – it's a story of passion and perseverance. Dilla produced 29 of the record's 31 tracks from his hospital bed while battling the incurable blood disease TTP as well as lupus. He poured his heart and soul into every song, and on his 32nd birthday, Donuts was released to universal acclaim. Just three days later, James "J Dilla" Yancey passed away.
When you turn on the radio, you're hearing the legacy of J Dilla and his game-changing approach to music production. His influence today remains as relevant as ever. Earlier this month, Dilla's mother "Ma Dukes" announced that her son's sampler and custom synthesizer would be added to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
By now you must be wondering what any of this has to do with Lyft. Remember: All of this started with a photo shared by a driver. Kory simply wanted to give me a glimpse of his city, but in doing so, he incited a flood of memories, emotions, and music.
In short, Kory's photo forged a connection between us. It created a sense of community.
Lyft was founded on the belief that community can change the world. If we can get strangers to treat each other like friends – if we see a car ride as an opportunity to meet someone new and share a piece of ourselves – we can make cities smaller, safer, and better connected.
Community simply means human connection, and human connection can take many forms: It can be a group fistbump at a local meetup, a "Like" on a Facebook post, or in this case, an emailed photo of a 32-foot tall donut.
Tune in to that feeling of community. Look for opportunities to connect with others. Open your heart, and community will come to you.
Crank up the J Dilla next time you're in the car, and tell us your favorite record in the comments.