Spanning 15 years, the recording career of RJD2 (aka RJ Krohn) is starting to exhibit the type of resilience generally reserved for golfers and bebop musicians. The relevance of this should not go unnoticed; it is increasingly rare for artists in the sphere of hip hop and electronic music to maintain a presence this far into a career. This feat becomes even more impressive considering this presence was achieved via independent labels. October 8, 2013 will see the release of More Is Than Isn’t, his fifth proper full-length LP (seventh, if you count “The Horror” EP and 2011’s Inversions of the Colossus), on his own RJ’s Electrical Connections imprint. But before we delve into that, perhaps a quick recap of years one through 14 is in order.
RJD2’s first credit as a producer appeared in 1998 on the MHz 12″ “Rocket Science” via Fondle ‘Em Records. Initially playing the role of a DJ/producer in a rap group, this would lay the groundwork leading to a solo record deal on Definitive Jux, the label that released RJD2’s 2002 debut, Deadringer. Both a critical and commercial success, the album’s single “Ghostwriter” appeared in numerous ads, television shows, and movies. 2006 through 2007 saw both the move to XL Recordings for The Third Hand, as well as the release of Magnificent City with Aceyalone, which birthed one of the most recognizable songs in RJD2’s catalog, “A Beautiful Mine,” which doubles as the theme song to AMC’s ‘Mad Men.’ But in 2009, the landscape of record labels had changed drastically from the previous decade. RJ forged ahead with a newly minted record label, a box set and plans for his fourth LP, The Colossus.
More Is Than Isn’t, the second RJD2 record on his own label, sees RJ incorporating new production techniques and approaches while still keeping an eye on the basic aesthetic that has always driven him: soulful, melodic, beat-oriented music. A largely instrumental affair, the record does feature several vocalists: Phonte Coleman (Little Brother, Foreign Exchange), Aaron Livingston (Icebird, The Roots), rappers Blueprint, P. Blackk and STS, and Khari Mateen. Conceptually, the album is tied together by three instrumental pieces that are different explorations of the same harmonic theme. It captures a dynamic range not seen before on an RJD2 album, ranging from subdued jazz-tinged pieces to bombastic club music, and a lot of funk in between.
“In ways, all of my previous albums were in some fashion striving to achieve something more than being ‘just instrumental music’; this is the first RJD2 album I’ve made that actually revels in a relative lack of vocals.”
Since last releasing an album, electronic music has continued to captivate the public’s interest. The continuation of this movement gave RJ reassurance in the endeavor of making instrumental music.
“In ways, all of my previous albums were in some fashion striving to achieve something more than being ‘just instrumental music’; this is the first RJD2 album I’ve made that actually revels in a relative lack of vocals,” he says.
The ethereal, beat-driven vibes of his debut album also make appearances now and again on More Is…, with textural usage of gritty drum breaks, lush analog synths, and his ever-distinctive use of the MPC sampler. This record truly is a culmination of years of experience as both a producer and composer, bringing to fruition a piece that stands on its own within the landscape of electronic and hip hop music today.
RJD2 performing “Let There Be Horns” from the Colossus live at the Rave in 2010
RJD2 up and coming tour dates:
(maybe he’ll drop one of those new tracks…)
Tuesday, July 16 – Cleveland, OH @ Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica
Sunday, July 28 – Dufer, OR @ WTF?! What The Festival w/ Purity Ring
Thursday, August 1 – Philadelphia, PA @ Morgan’s Pier