styles: experimental hip hop, instrumental hip hop, underground hip hop
others: DJ Shadow, El-P, Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock
Def Jux, 2002
I can’t believe it’s August already. This summer has passed me by yet again.
Last summer was kind of nice. I didn’t have work so besides some summer classes,
I got the chance to hang around New York City. I think it was safe to say that
The Shins’ Oh Inverted World was the album of last summer. It was
pleasant, not too confrontational and had a familiar quality to it. By year’s
end, people still liked The Shins album. Their only qualm was that it wasn’t
anything original. I sort of agreed. But what’s wrong with a nice pop record?
RJD2’s debut full length, Deadringer is The Shins’ Oh Inverted World
all over again. You would probably expect something more original coming from
the Def Jux camp.
El-P, Cannibal Ox and Aesop Rock have really come full steam deconstructing all
perceptions of what hip-hop is and what it could be. I would never have imagined
they would put out this album. Not that it’s run-of-the-mill by any means, but
Deadringer is definitely much more conventional than what’s been released
in the past.
You’d be kidding yourself if you didn’t hear DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing all
over this album. Deadringer’s second track, "Salud," is sadly a straight
copy off Endtroducing’s "Building Steam with a Grain of Salt." The
sampled vocals open the album for the listener and proclaim that RJD2 is proud
of everything he’s done here.
And he should be. Deadringer is an enjoyable flashback of the past few
years of abstract, instrumental hip hop. Mixing funky drumbeats with downtempo
strings and jazz basslines, Deadringer culls the best of what we’ve
previously heard from Ninja Tune and Mo Wax releases since 1996.
The Columbus, Ohio bred-DJ/Producer works nicely with MCs Blueprint, Jakki and
Copywright, all giving the vocalists the space to stretch while the music
compliments their deliveries quite nicely. The finest examples off Deadringer
are undoubtedly "Ghostwriter," "Chicken-Bone Circuit," and "The Proxy" as all
tracks blend what I love about this music together: rapid fire drum patterns,
muted horns and guitar strumming are all over every track.
The more I listen to Deadringer, the more I like it. I might just end up
throwing out my Mr. Scruff, Rae & Christian and Funki Porcini cds to make room
in the collection. If RJD2 can build on the past (which he’s already mastered),
maybe even embrace his label cohorts, I imagine I might even have to throw away
my DJ Shadow cds as well.
1. The Horror
3. Smoke and Mirrors
4. Good Times Roll Pt. 2
5. Final Frontier performed by Rjd2 / Blueprint
7. Cut Out to FL
8. F.H.H. performed by Rjd2 / Jakki
9. Shot in the Dark
10. Chicken-Bone Circuit
11. The Proxy
12. 2 More Dead
13. Take the Picture Off
14. Silver Fox
15. June performed by Rjd2 / Copywrite