Reinvent: Create anew and make over.
Ramble John Krohn, aka RJD2, was born May 27, 1976 in Eugene Oregon, but he was raised in Columbus, OH. To date he has release two full length album on El-p's Def Jux label, "Dead Ringer" (2002) and "Since We Last Spoke" (2004). He has also releases various mixtapes and remixes over the years, and this is not including his work has half of Soul Position (whose 2006 release "Things Go Better with RJ and AL" made my top 25). To say the least, Rj had both feet firmly planted in hip-hop culture.
Then in September of last year, RJ talked to Pitchfork, and said that he had gone "rap free in 2006", and that he was always meant to make pop music. He had also left Def Jux, and sign a long-term deal with XL Recordings (home of Be Your Own Pet, Dizzee Rascal, The Racounters, M.I.A, Thom Yorke, Ratatat, Tapes n' Tapes, etc) earlier in the year. You could tell that things were changing, but what would the result of all of this change be? The result is RJD2's third full-length album and first on XL, "The Third Hand" to be release on 3/6/07. Upon first listen, I felt that he completely reinvented himself, but after going back through "Since We Last Spoke" you get a sense that this is more of a natural progression or maturation. Especially if you listen to "Making Days Longer" from "Since We Last Spoke". Yes he sings on most of the tracks, he plays all of the instruments and I think there may be only one or two samples on the entire record. However, there is something more honest, more sincere in this record then in his previous releases. This may be the result of him playing all of the instruments, or he singing his personal lyrics, basically he has created an extension of himself. He didn't simply reproduce music that had already been created. Not lessen the world of hip-hop, but they have yet to really produce something this meaningful.
Moby has done something very similar to what RJ is now doing. He stepped out from behind the computer/turntable, and began to create a more organic vocal style of pop music. Frankly, it is some of the worst music he has ever created. However, unlike Moby, RJ can sing very well, and he is able to add just the right element from his previous style to make it work.
DJ Shadow and RJD2 have been on similar paths at times, and both have produced high quality instrumental hip-hop. However, DJ Shadow on his latest release went deep (too deep) into the realm of Rap and really lost the qualities that had drawn so many fans to him. RJ has gone in the opposite direction, and we have yet to see or hear what his fans will do.
What do you think of RJ's new sound? (leave a comment...)
Get It (mp3)
Have Mercy (mp3)
Preorder "The Third Hand" Here
Bonus: (find more RJ mp3's here)
RJD2 - 1976 (mp3)
Soul Position - Hand Me Downs (mp3)
The Go! Team - Huddle Formation (RJD2 Remix) (mp3)