J Dilla - Ruff Draft
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While Dilla awaited the fate of a solo album set to be released by MCA, he knocked out Ruff Draft, a ten-track EP released in 2003 on he and Frank-N-Dank's short-lived Mummy label. Distributed only in Germany, the 12" was aimed at Dilla's "real niggas only." Unsurprisingly, physical copies reached the hands of his keenest followers and few others. It wasn't necessarily scarce; it was pretty much unknown, a low-key import release from a stealth producer. Over three years after its initial issue, and a little over a year since Dilla's passing, Stones Throw steps in with an expanded reissue, adding four tracks to the original sequence with a second disc containing the instrumentals. When compared to Welcome 2 Detroit, it's measurably more scattered, with stray ideas adding up to a less than cohesive whole that nonetheless engages entirely. Here, he makes moves further away from his past in the Ummah and, apart from a couple brief interludes and sampled interjections, it's all his show, with his vocals on each cut - including "Nothing Like This," where he sings with an effective flatness. If you've never cared for Dilla as an MC, it's unlikely that you will be won over by these rhymes, since they entail his usual circuit of smacking down haters, getting money, and getting laid.