Since We Last Spoke

Artist: RJD2Title: Since We Last SpokeRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Without a doubt, RJD2 was Hip-Hop’s favorite new producer of 2002. His debut album Dead Ringer was arguably the year’s best instrumental Hip-Hop album. On top of that, RJD2 grabbed his crotch and got behind his MHz crew, producing most of Copywrite’s debut LP (The High Exaulted), plus a Soul Position EP (Unlimited EP)& LP (8 Million Stories) with Blueprint. That was then. While many raved about the fun the newest Jukie put back in the music, a lot of critics ruined the party. RJD2 was accused of riding DJ Shadow’s signature sound, and in an interview with shortly after the album was released, the producer vowed that he’d never mess with the same sound again.

Since We Last Spoke may be the most suitable title for a work of hip-hop since Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s All Souled Out. RJ defied his previous critics and took his record into a new direction that may leave some scratching their heads before they actually cut the record. Since We Last Spoke is a reflection of the times. This album has the twenty something generation spoken for, musically. Songs range from one part an ode to 80’s studio rock, “Through the Walls”, to one part bargain bin soul, “Iced Lightning”. RJ adds a chunk of macho guitar riffs and classic Hip-Hop percussion to complete the ingredients. Also, expect more synthesizing this time around. RJ’s obviously listening to different records than last time. The thing is…it’s still groundbreaking.

The result of RJD2’s growth affects the B-boy in strange ways. This will be the record that will get every hipster in the Village (and coffeehouse part of your city) to buy the record. But RJD2 was cherished by the Hip-Hop community first. He still provides us with “Ring Finger” – which plays the same dynamite guitar chop Alchemist used for “Big T.W.I.N.S.” on the Infamous Mobb debut. While so many discovered Blueprint and Copywrite by way of Dead Ringer, there is almost a complete absence of rapping on this album. Instead, you’ll find softly sung tunes of love and loss, overtop obscure string arrangements. In RJ’s formula, the one remaining element may very well be percussion. There is something about his drum programming that just tips the ear. It’s very crunchy drums that reflect that golden era of early-mid 70’s funk-rock. Without a doubt, this record will cause a frenzy on the dance-floor with tracks like, “Since ‘76” with hallucinogenic appeal on “Clean Living.”

Hip-Hop never likes losing one of its own. Regardless of his efforts in working with Kurupt and Soul Assassins, we pretty much lost Everlast. Once he picked up the guitar and slowed the delivery, it was hard to ever have him back. RJD2 is pushing those lines. This record might lead some to believe he went into a new direction. However, tucked in between spaces – this album is a successful experiment. Plus, it’s a direct defile of the production RJ has been doing as of late. Instrumental Hip-Hop wasn’t allowed to get watered down, because one of newest power players kept the sound moving.