Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: Aaron Livingston, album reviews, Copywrite, Illogic, Kenna, Phonte, Releases of the Week, RJ's Electrical Connections, RJD2
PREVIEW: VISIT RJD2’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 18/20 Watts
As one of instrumental hip-hop’s founding fathers, RJD2 has become a household name amongst fans of the genre. With a groundbreaking discography containing the likes of classics such as Deadringer and Since We Last Spoke, it was hard not to be excited about RJ’s debut release via his brand new label, RJ’s Electrical Connections. The result is a clear shift in style, one leaning dangerously close to the realm of “performer”, yet all the while maintaining his quintessential, oh-so-soulful sound.
On the surface, The Colossus may seem to lack the depth of RJ’s sample-heavy past work, but I promise that feeling doesn’t last long. Beneath the surface of the record lies a depth of compositional competence that went previously untouched on his revered past works. Building heavily on the new-soul inspired foundation previously hinted at on Deadringer (most notably on “Good Times Roll, Pt. 2” ), RJ constructs tracks that sport the production prowess that so many purists had feared was taken away by his disappointing previous release, The Third Hand. The tracks on the record are dripping with a harmonic solidarity that keeps it moving exceptionally well.
Collaborating with the likes of Kenna, Phonte, Aaron Livingston and Illogic, among others, only adds to the record’s ability to entertain, with many of the record’s high points occurring in the collaborations. It’s hard to mention The Colossus without noting “A Son’s Cycle”, featuring the uninterruptable flow of Illogic. RJ has often displayed an uncanny ability to pick the perfect vocalist for an intended collaboration (see Deadringer’s “June,” featuring Copywrite) and he never breaks tradition on The Colossus.
In the end, it’s hard to challenge RJD2’s position as a founder and constant innovator of instrumental hip-hop. While some may frown upon RJ’s departure from the sample-heavy days of the past, it’s impossible to deny the fact that RJ is one of the few in the genre that excel at whatever direction they decide to take on record. And thus, RJ has once again emerged as a forerunner in the world of instrumental hip-hop, never failing to impress with his ability to remaster, recreate, and redefine the genre.
– John Luposello