Tuesday, June 19, 2007

ST: Ruff Draft (Reissue)

To celebrate the completion of Peanut Butter Wolf's 7 days in LA, I'll be posting about Wolf's record label, Stones Throw, for the next 7 days, focusing on albums released in 2007, a year that looks to be Stones Throw's biggest.

I'm gonna start with the familiar, the late J Dilla's Detroit masterpiece, Ruff Draft, reissued with instrumentals as a double disc in March of this year.

In 2002, following the breakup of MCA Records and the shelving of his last two albums, Dilla went back to his underground roots with an album that, according to Dilla, sounded "like it's straight from the...cassette." Originally released in 2003 under his self-run and short-lived Mummy Records, "Ruff Draft represented the best of Dilla's dirty work, its analog haze recalling a time when most producers toiled like mad scientists in their basements and garages" (Ronnie Reese).

In 2006, Stones Throw continued their fan-friendly reissuing trend (The Unseen, Champion Sound) by re-releasing Ruff Draft complete with 4 Bonus tracks, new packaging, and, you guessed it, a second disc of instrumentals.

What makes these double-disc reissues so enjoyable, is that they contain such rich instrumentals; tracks that utilize a variety of instruments and sounds. On Let's Take It Back, Nothing Like This, and Shouts (Alt) Dilla deftly draws from both hip-hop and psychedelia using harpsichords, marimbas, and strange key signtures. The first bonus track, Intro (Alt), possesses distant vocals and harmonic echoes that would make Arthur Russell smile. On the Casio-catchy bonus track Take Notice, feat. Stones Throw artist Guilty Simpson, Dilla expands on the album's first Interlude: stretching it from 49 seconds to 4:25 (the albums longest track). Even with the 4 bonus tracks, Disc 1 is a mere 28 minutes long. J Dilla's Ruff Draft is short yet remarkably sweet.

J Dilla - The $

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