J Dilla – The Middle Finger (white label)
Limited edition of 1000, hand-numbered 12-inch vinyl. Kanye West produced version of â€œThe Anthemâ€ & Dillaâ€™s alt. vocal version of â€œFuck the Police.â€ Expected ship date October 5.
When J Dilla turned in a demo of his solo album to MCA Records in 2002, he did so on a CDR that he labeled The Middle Finger. Weâ€™re going to have to guess what he meant by that â€“ it doesnâ€™t seem to have been a working title for the record, so maybe he was telling the A&R staff what he cared of their intervention into his creative process? Or was it what he thought about having to show the label a progress report?
For lack of a finished album, that CDR â€“ stripped of â€œFuck the Policeâ€ â€“ was turned into an MCA promo CD, with one of those stark, black and white tray cards in a jewel case and a laser-printed label. By that time the album was being called Pay Jay, and it circulated at around the same time that Wendy Goldstein â€“ the exec that had signed Dilla to MCA â€“ left the label. Dilla was left in a lurch, the album was shelved and he was eventually released from his contractual obligations to MCA.
That demo/promo CD was leaked, and it became the basis of numerous bootlegs, all sourced from low-bit rate, 128 KBPS MP3 files. Dilla hadnâ€™t even kept the original files in his archived sessions in Detroit.
That CDR â€“ the original CDR, the actual â€œMiddle Fingerâ€ â€“ still existed. It was found in a storage unit, in a pile of other major-label leftovers, and it barely played. The CDâ€™s reflective paint was chipping off, rendering it all but unusable. Two tracks â€“ which never made it to The Diary â€“ did play, and they came off that CD in full resolution. Those were Dillaâ€™s two-track mixes of the Kanye West version of â€œThe Anthemâ€ and his album version of â€œFuck The Police,â€ featuring an alternate vocal performance. This single comes from those files, and completes The Diary.
Photo of J Dilla at A&M Records, Los Angeles, by Eric Coleman (Mochilla).