“Before we get this started let me explain it… It's the Ruff Draft EP, for my real n****s only… DJs that play that real live sh*t… You wanna bounce in ya whip with that real live shit… Sound like it's straight from the motherfuckin' cassette.” Before your eyes permanently roll into the back of your head at the sight of yet another posthumous J Dilla Record Store Day release, let’s break it down. A number of different versions of the Ruff Draft EP (or LP, depending on who you ask) have been released with various mixdowns and slightly rearranged tracklists; some versions have vocals on some tracks, some don’t… it’s impossible to keep it straight, even for the most feverish Dilla stan. But this exhaustive (and apparently, definitive) pressing is the last version you’ll ever need of one of J Dilla’s most earnest and distilled projects, recorded after an aborted album for MCA left Dilla feeling incredibly jaded and pissed off… a return to form of sorts. There are two different mixes of the album here: LP1 contains the recently-unearthed original mixes (mixed by Dilla) which were thought to be gone forever when Stones Throw reissued the album in 2007 (it was subsequently re-mixed and remastered for that pressing). LP2 contains an alternate mixdown, also by Dilla; very similar-sounding to the first but with what can only be described as an added layer of cassette distortion (this move won’t be strange to anyone familiar with this record or Dilla’s general vibe circa 2003). The first contains the original 2003 tracklisting; the second omits some songs and adds in the bonus tracks from the 2007 reissue (which are essential). This edition is released with the blessing of Dilla’s family and completely authorized by Egon: Now-Again label boss, creative director of Dilla’s estate and former Stones Throw label manager who oversaw the 2007 reissue. In the enclosed liner notes, he outlines the frustrations and shortcuts that marred the ’07 version, and the meticulous lengths he and mastering engineer Dave Cooley went to properly present this album, a process which took roughly an entire year (bonus points for sourcing the original photograph that was used for the sleeve of the ’03 Mummy pressing). Includes a full-color booklet with extensive liner notes and photos. Recommended.
- expanded edition of Dilla's Ruff Draft EP from 2003
- double vinyl pressing
- LP1 contains Dilla's original mixes + original tracklisting
- LP2 contains Dilla's alternate mixes + bonus tracks
- for DJs that play that real live sh*t
- limited to 4750 copies
- digital download included
- music label: Pay Jay 2018
reviewed by edward james almost 04/2018
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