Definitive Jux, 2002

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Hip hop has a lot more to offer than guns 'n' clubs 'n' hoes. It may be tricky to find them on the radio, but those artists that want to push the boundaries of hip hop, to make a statement while offering more musically than thumping beats, are a treasure. Witness Outkast, the Roots and now Rjd2.

Actually, this one doesn't really have a social's more like an ambient techno rap album. Tough to picture, perhaps? That's a good sign, and this is a good album. "The Horror," in particular, has a creepy, warped synthesizer riffing over top of a solid drum/bass combo, with the occasional word about understanding monsters floating in and out of the din; it's the best song here.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Ghostwriter” uses a spare hip-hop beat, several keyboards and the occasional strings to great effect, creating a languid jam that ends far too soon. “Smoke & Mirrors” is firm Moby territory, with old blues lyrics superimposed over top of a modern techno beat, which gives way to the kinetic “Good Times Roll pt. 2,” which is basically Rjd2 going crazy on his turntables in between a 70s funk Earth, Wind and Fire-type sound.

“Chicken-Bone Circuit” uses real drumming instead of electronic drums behind a wall of keyboards and conversation snippets, while “2 More Dead” is a laid-back soul jam with a light club beat. And the closer “Work” sounds, of all things, like Ray Charles gone modern R&B.

Sadly, the album's weakness is in the straight-up rap songs, which don't have the memorable hooks needed. "Final Frontier" blends rapping with female vocals, but the single groove gets tedious after a few minutes. “F.H.H.” could have been good but just doesn't work (despite the great line “So what the fuck is your definition of underground? / Depressing beats and bleeped cats who love their sound? / Well I ain't part of that.”)

What Deadringer offers is funk, soul, hip hop and electronica in a way few have attempted (at least few that have released CDs in 2006). With an abundance of creativity and lack of the self-aggrandizing that mars so much modern hip hop, the disc is definitely worth hearing. 

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Definitive Jux, and is used for informational purposes only.