RJD2 - Dead Ringer
Rjd2 was first noticed producing tracks for his group MHz, but it was when he hooked up with Def Jux that his brilliance started showing. "The F Word remix" for Cannibal Ox got him a lot of attention, but it was his 12" with Copywrite that really got people on. "June," which is featured on "Dead Ringer," is a track that defies description, it just must be heard.
The art form of sampling will be held in a new regard when Rj is through; you think DJ Shadow is impressive? Rjd2 will blow you away. Don't let his affiliation with Def Jux be misleading, while is capable of creating the unique Def Jux sound, this album is nowhere near it. The album starts with "The Horror," which sounds like it could be the theme song for a James Bond villain. While it is very well put together and undeniably catchy, it does not indicate the direction of the album at all. That is really the only fault of the album; it is not as cohesive as it could be. Rj takes you from the remarkably melodic and soulful "Smoke & Mirrors" to the up-tempo 70's throwback, "Good Times Roll Pt.2." The latter is a great track but does not follow up the previous all that well.
The pinnacle of the album comes on "Ghostwriter," which is one of the best beats that my ears have ever heard. It is very rare that an instrumental track will have me hitting the repeat button, especially more than once. Just when you think the song is over, you can hear the horns coming in again, I cannot describe how incredible it sounds. Other standouts are "The Chicken-Bone Circuit" which features Rj going bezerk on the drum machine and the turntable blessed "Cut Out To FL." He brings the vintage vibe on a number of tracks, the aforementioned "Good Times Roll Pt.2," "2 More Dead," and "Work." Some may be scared off the their lack of hip hop vibe, but like I say, good music is good music.
Not every track is on the instrumental tip though; Rj forms "Soul Position" with Blueprint for a taste of their upcoming LP together. "Final Frontier" is a terrific display of what each artist offers as an individual and as a duo. His MHz counterparts also lend some rhymes to a couple tracks. Copywrite, as mentioned before, and Jakki represents lovely on "F.H.H." Jakki talks shit like few others over a simple yet dope beat. Be sure to let the last track run, as there is a bonus track. "Here's What's Left" is so well constructed it is unbelievable. While most of the album's songs are not meant to be rhymed over, it nonetheless exposes just how rushed and careless so much production is today. I am not just talking hip hop, but all genres of music.
Genius is one word that is thrown around far too much in the music industry. It is a label that should only be given to the truly extraordinary talents. After listening to "Dead Ringer," it is the only word that comes to mind. Track after track, each sound is so intricately woven together and placed at the right spot, it sounds like he spent an hour on each minute of the song. Rjd2 is a musical genius, no more, no less.