24 Songs, 53 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Detroit’s own J. Dilla has been elevated to the status of beat-making godhead in the year since his passing. Yet amidst all the tales surrounding the wildly prolific producer’s sick-bed spawned masterpiece Donuts and his Madlib assisted underground comeback Champion Sound, Dilla’s slick yet slightly off kilter productions of the mid and late ‘90s were once viewed with a mixture of scorn and confusion by the Hip-hop cognoscenti, who accused him of suffocating Tribe Called Quest’s spare boom-bap beneath unnecessarily baroque production. Though these criticisms now seem shortsighted, they inspired a ferocious response from Dilla in the form of Ruff Draft, a scruffy, fiercely insular statement of purpose from an artist who refused to be cowed by naysayers. Detroit MCs like Frank & Dank, Guilty Simpson and Lil’ Bit make some memorable guest appearances but the focus here remains firmly on Dilla’s beats. An otherworldly fusion of genres with a hip-hop soul and an icy electro heartbeat, Ruff Draft is a purposely disjointed collage of pilfered soul loops and metronome steady drumbeats whose beautifully low-fi sound resembles little else in Dilla’s catalogue.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Detroit’s own J. Dilla has been elevated to the status of beat-making godhead in the year since his passing. Yet amidst all the tales surrounding the wildly prolific producer’s sick-bed spawned masterpiece Donuts and his Madlib assisted underground comeback Champion Sound, Dilla’s slick yet slightly off kilter productions of the mid and late ‘90s were once viewed with a mixture of scorn and confusion by the Hip-hop cognoscenti, who accused him of suffocating Tribe Called Quest’s spare boom-bap beneath unnecessarily baroque production. Though these criticisms now seem shortsighted, they inspired a ferocious response from Dilla in the form of Ruff Draft, a scruffy, fiercely insular statement of purpose from an artist who refused to be cowed by naysayers. Detroit MCs like Frank & Dank, Guilty Simpson and Lil’ Bit make some memorable guest appearances but the focus here remains firmly on Dilla’s beats. An otherworldly fusion of genres with a hip-hop soul and an icy electro heartbeat, Ruff Draft is a purposely disjointed collage of pilfered soul loops and metronome steady drumbeats whose beautifully low-fi sound resembles little else in Dilla’s catalogue.

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