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Since We Last Spoke
by: Sun-J

In 2002, RJD2's Deadringer hit the underground hip hop scene like Kanye West's College Dropout hit the commercial scene. Deadringer's sibling The Horror EP solidified the "RJD2"sound; funky beats, old school samples and a futuristic vibe. Musically, things began to change with several singles and most notably his Soul Position album, 8 Million Stories (Soul Position is RJD2 plus rapper Blueprint). 8 Million Stories had a rock 'n roll edge, but was still hop hop enough for Blueprint to caress with his smooth rap vocals. However, RJD2's Soul Position album served as a prequel to his current release, and the subject of this review, Since We Last Spoke.

Since We Last Spoke marks a complete direction shift in RJD2's music style. On this album there are no guest appearances by Def Jux label mates mHZ, copywrite, or even his counterpart Blueprint. The LP is a hybrid of many musical styles. It is evident from the beginning that the topic is not hip hop, but more essentially rock. If you are expecting work similar to the latest with mHZ or Soul Position, you will be in for a surprise.

The album opens up with the title track, which begins with a fringe of hip hop before switching into a funk sound with bouncing drums and quirky synth. "Exotic Talk" is completely rock influenced with its electric guitar and "1976" sounds like remixed Santana with its percussive Latin groove. The Latin trend continues with "Ring Finger," a slow Latin love song with acoustic guitar and dancing piano. On "Making Days Longer," RJD2 steps up to the mic, not to rap, but to sing. Using what sounds like Postal Service synths in the background, RJD2 croons as best he can in tune with the fluctuating instrumental. Quality wise his singing comes off like Hi-Tek's rapping on Hi-Teknology. "Someone's Second Kiss" is the first track we encounter with dominant hip hop flavor. While the rock is recessive it is still eminent enough to parlay the theme of the album. "To All of You" is a fusion of several genres and displays RJD2's superb mixing techniques as he shuffles sounds of Latin, classical, easy listening, funk and IDM. "Clean Living" has a funky 80's rhythm and blues groove swimming among wah-wah guitars. "Iced Lightning" is very trance with its synth strut while "Through the Walls" transitions back into hip hop with its "rahzel" drums. RJD2's rock transition shouldn't be a surprise to fans as his previous work has hinted at a rock album. Check out the beats of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man," Aesop Rock's "Kill Em All (remix)," Bloodrock's "D.O.A.," and Soul Position's "Inhale." With this album, RJD2 has solidified himself as an innovator of music. Underground rap producers everywhere are being challenged to step up their game.


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