J Dillas rarely heard masterpiece “Ruff Draft” officially re-released as a deluxe 2-CD set with bonus vocal tracks, interludes and instrumentals – 19 March 2007.
Before we get this started, let me explain it. Its Ruff Draft. For my real niggaz only. DJs that play that real live shit. You wanna bounce in your whip with that real live shit. Sound like its straight from the ma fuckin cassette! Ruff Draft… Lets do it.
…Thus begins Ruff Draft. These self-produced tracks make up one of the late J Dillas least known works. Released on vinyl only in February 2003 by Dillas own newly-formed Mummy Records and distributed by the German label Groove Attack, this sought-after release remains elusive and virtually unknown to the casual Dilla fan.
In retrospect, Ruff Draft proved to mark a turning point in Dillas career. In contrast to the often understated, mellow vibes and minimal, crisp drumbeats he brought to the boards for A Tribe Called Quest, Common, Busta Rhymes, The Roots, Erykah Badu and many more well-known names, Ruff Draft revealed – to those who heard it the first time around – a whole new side to Dillas musical genius. Freewheeling, in-your-face synthesizers blend perfectly with an uncharacteristically sample-heavy approach that was as bangin as it was experimental. And, as he indicated in the intro to the album (quoted above), its supposed to bump in your car like an old cassette – one of those well-loved ones that get played over and over and over.
Stones Throw Records now presents the reissue of Ruff Draft as a crucial milestone in the evolution of one of hip-hops greatest producers.