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Music Review: Rjd2 – The Third Hand

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Ramble John Krohn a.k.a. Rjd2 has been on the scene for years. This one man show is well known especially in the underground rap scene and also in the skateboarding community for his exceptional talent in creating beats and using samples to their fullest extent. Originally making a name for himself as a hip hop DJ in Columbus, Ohio beginning in the '90s, Rjd2 has matured into his own music making machine. Releasing instrumentals and solo albums full of amazing creations with help from sampled loops and beats while also collaborating with up and coming hip hop artists, the man keeps busy. Once underneath fellow rap-mate EL-P’s label Definitive Jux, Rjd2 has left to try something new and was signed to XL Records.

Previously using mostly samples, Rjd2 decided to try a new approach at music making by creating, performing, and producing his latest release The Third Hand all by himself in his Philadelphia basement. Straying away from his hip hop sound, Rjd2 has moved towards more traditional pop/rock as he plays and composes all of the music on this release using not only his sampler, but also guitars and electric pianos. He has also tried his luck by singing on all of the tracks and I personally think he hit it dead on.

Sounding more of an indie band, his newly created style reminds me of bands like Phoenix, Postal Service, and even a little of Air. If you are a fan of Rjd2’s previous material you may be in for a big surprise because this release has strayed so far away from his style that one might think he caved in. I see it more as an experiment into what one can do musically and I am happy he has tried this new approach.

Don’t be afraid to try something new because the catchy beats are still there. To prove it, listen to tracks like “You Never Had It” and “Beyond” as you can hear Rjd2’s unmistakable style. When the signing starts though is when you hear what the new Rjd2 sounds like. He has such a gentle voice and I think it goes perfect with what he has created. “Have Mercy” is another track with catchy beats overlapped with Rjd2’s singing. I can honestly see some of these songs being on commercials in the near future. He has a gift of making music that infects your mind.

“Sweet Piece” reminds me of the '80s thanks to the beat and piano. “Just When”, like most of the other songs, has a style that gets buried in your mind. This song especially reminds me of something Kenna might do. Possibly channeling something the Beatles might have done if they were still together, “Reality” has a appealing sound and feel. My favorite track on the disc "The Bad Penny", brings back the instrumental style that I admire Rjd2 for so much. I only wish I had the talent to create music remotely close to what I am hearing.

It’s almost hard to believe that someone who is so associated with hip hop has created music like this. In fact, the fifteen track album almost seems to glide through your ears so gently that you do not even realize that “The Evening Gospel” is the last cut. This CD really is an incredible album to listen to. If there were to be a Lost In Translation Part 2 released in the near future you could be sure that Sofia Coppola herself would try and get some of his tracks to be in the soundtrack. That is exactly what The Third Hand really reminds me of. The music is fun and so relaxing you feel as if you are on vacation while listening to it.

It was a gamble to make a disc like this, especially when it is unexpected to most of the fans, but for Rjd2, I think he did a great job and I look forward to hearing more of his creations in the near future. I can predict that a lot of Rjd2 fans out their may not understand what this CD is all about. I could see a lot of them losing interest very quickly because it is not the hip hop style that Rjd2 is associated to. That is a damn shame. If they do, they have no idea what they are missing out on musically. Don't make that mistake, give this new CD a try, it just might make your day.

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