March 20, 2019

J Dilla "Ruff Draft" (Reckless Driving Citation, 2007)

Originally released in 2003, J. Dilla’s Ruff Draft was a limited edition vinyl release for UK based imprint, Mummy Records. Selling out almost overnight, this lost chapter in the Yancey legacy was unheard by most of his fans - not only because of its limited edition nature, but also because of its vinyl only status. Now, in honor of the 1-year anniversary of his death, Stones Throw gives Ruff Draft an official release, with all new bells and whistles. Ruff Draft was a turning point in the production of J. Dilla, as it was the first project to show a side of the producer that would eventually come to fruition on Donuts. His Beat Generation entry, Welcome To Detroit, offered a mere glimpse of his true dirty district style, but Ruff Draft went full speed ahead with it. “Sound like it’s straight from the mu’fuckin’ cassette” hollers Dilla at the beginning of the album. Just like Donuts, upon first listen, it’s hard to understand what the fuss is about, as Dilla’s style here is so grimy that one can barely grab a hold of it. It’s on the consecutive listens that the hypnotic backwards daze of “Nothing Like This” sinks into your consciousness... Dilla’s production is so dope, that even the “Intro” and “Shouts” - which would be typically skipped by listeners - keep the head-nodding all night long. The addition of a second instrumental disc in Stones Throw’s new treatment of Ruff Draft makes this package even more appealing. Much of the time is spent more on the vocal side of things, as Dilla “keeps it ghetto with the plastic cups”, flexing his skills as both vocalist and producer... Several references are made to A Tribe Called Quest all over the record which is fitting, since they helped introduce Dilla into the game on the Beats Rhymes and Life LP. Or perhaps this is Dilla’s answer to The Low End Theory, another record that defied expectation and changed the way hip-hop music was made. Either way, whether you are hearing this record for the first time after his death, or are revisiting it, Ruff Draft is another fine example of what a marvel J. Dilla was, not to mention what a tremendous loss that hip-hop faced with his death. - HipHopSite 

Stones Throw ran a bunch of L.A. parking ticket lookalikes and ticketed people outside Ruff Draft listening parties in Spring 2007. They were a citation for "Reckless Driving" and boasted a Warning: "Bumping this in your ride may subject motor vehicle to seizure." I believe they were later included in the Turn It Up box sets with other promotional items. You can check it out below. R.I.P. J Dilla.