RJD2 - The Third Hand

Posted 9 years ago
Tags: RJD2,

RJD2 has always lived on the edges of hip-hop, and on his new album The Third Hand he has...

The Third Hand Album Review

RJD2 has always lived on the edges of hip-hop, and on his new album The Third Hand he has traveled even further into the outer-reaches of beat. Born Ramble John Krohn, RJD2 has spent the last few years on many “artist to watch” lists, but despite the underground buzz that followed his 2002 debut mixtape Your Face Or Your Kneecaps and his work with indie-label Def Jux, he has remained largely unknown in the mainstream hip-hop world. RJD2’s latest offering is filled with slow melodic sections, live acoustic instrumentation, and an atmospheric mood. His often obscure sonic techniques will not only get him crossed off the 106 and Park guest list, but should have many wondering if the album can rightfully be called hip-hop at all.

RJD2 has never been afraid to sample from a wider selection of sources than the typical producer, and on The Third Hand his sonic influences range from Parliament Funkadelic to The Beatles. The album’s opening track You Never Had It begins with two organs playing melodic lines, and then grows to include several guitars and a piano. The result is a song that musicly comes closer to Radiohead than Timbaland. Other tracks like Evening Gospel and Someday have little percussion and wander in and out of musical genres. The outcome is an adventurous album that can leave the listener feeling lost.

Despite the ambient aura that pervades the album, RJD2 shows that he hasn’t forgotten how to make a good solid beat. His track Work It Out starts out with a slow snare drum line that slowly begins to pick up steam until a flurry of percussion is contrasted with an overlying softer harmony. The song could be the soundtrack to B-Boy break circle if blasted at full volume, or the perfect song for relaxing at the crib. On Mur’s Beat RJ combines a driving bass and drum line that leaves the listenener begging for a talented MC to grab a mic and get on it.

RJD2 has made it his mission to break out of the hot car/hot women/hot beats mold that hip-hop has become, and on this album he certainly seperates himself from the crowd. Unfortunately RJ’s strength is also his weakness; he can become so intent on pursueing a musical idea that he forgets his listener. RJD2 is at his best when perfectly balanced between his hip-hop roots and his experimental leanings, but on this album he goes over the cliff and even the most underground cats will have trouble connecting with the wandering hazy mood of the album. Here’s hoping that on his next effort RJD2 goes back to the core of his beat-making ability. Then again, on The Other Hand…

DJBooth Rating - 2.5 Spins

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