I have mixed feelings about Rjd2 (@rjd2).
Like most fans of underground hip-hop at the time, I was blown away by Deadringer when it dropped back in 2002.
Looking back, the early-to-mid-aughts could be regarded as something of a “golden age” for indie rap and Rj‘s debut album is arguably one of the most influential records to ever emerge out of the genre of instrumental hip-hop.
At the time of release, Definitive Jux were leading the scene, having garnered universal acclaim for introducing the likes of Mr. Lif (@therealMrLif), Cannibal Ox (@CannibalOx), Aesop Rock (@AesopRockWins), and for launching the solo career of label founder, El-P (@therealelp).
So the success of Deadringer really can’t be overstated as it allowed for other producers to get their own solo deals and release their own instrumental albums rather than the standard beat tape.
Without laying that groundwork, there wouldn’t have been a lane available today for guys like Diplo (@diplo) to build an empire with the stature of Mad Decent.
(I certainly could not have pictured dude hawking BlackBerrys back when I purchased Florida in ’04).
Nevertheless, Rjd2 would go on to become one of the most in-demand underground producers for the rest of the decade.
At some point, he must have gotten bored and it began to show through his own work almost immediately.
Since We Last Spoke showed a steep decline in quality compared to its predecessor and Rj began making disparaging remarks about his own back catalogue as well as rap music as a whole, referring to it as “moron music”.
At the time, the lines between indie rock and indie rap were beginning to blur and it appeared as if he was no longer satisfied with being a mere producer. Rj now saw himself as a singer / songwriter.
That’s cool and all but that epiphany resulted in one of the shittiest albums I have ever heard in the Third Hand.
Artistic expression is something I will always support, even when I’m not personally into it, but to piss all over everything (and everyone) that brought you to that point was a real turn-off from a fan standpoint.
I even got into a Twitter conversation about it with DJ Mekalek (@djmekalek) of Time Machine who concurred:
*** Ed’s note: if you aren’t familiar with Time Machine, please believe that Slow Your Roll is one of the best rap records of the past decade. Also, check out last year’s Vicious Experiments (free download). These dudes are way too slept on.
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Back we are to the present day and Rjd2 is attempting to reclaim some of his past fanbase by creeping back onto the hip-hop scene with his latest release, More Is than Isn’t.
I’m not convinced. A lot of this shit sounds like a re-tread. Like a Diet Coke® version of his former self (with extra SPLENDA®).
Personally, the only track I’m really feeling is the collaboration with Phonte (@phontigallo).
The rest pretty much sucks.
Despite all of this, a beat nerd is a beat nerd and this is still a great episode.
Rj shows off a lot of unusual pieces within the crates but reveals a different side from most producers with his atypical organizational methods and general disinterest in collecting.
He even makes reference to a musical crisis he experienced in the late 2000s which may actually explain his brief flirtation with cardigans and white snobbery.
I enjoyed this one quite a bit even though I lost the majority of my interest in this clown many moons ago.
He’s still got stories, at least!
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To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.
And follow series creator, Jason Newman on Twitter – @Jasonrnewman