RJD2 has had an interesting career so far. His first album, Deadringer, had him being hailed as heir to the throne of DJ Shadow, an instant instrumental hip hop classic that helped lay the foundation for Definitive Jux. On Since We Last Spoke, he went in a different direction, incorporating noisy rock to counterbalance the hip hop, creating a unique and rewarding listening experience. On The Third Hand, he parted ways with Jux, signed with XL, and dropped an album that was more in line with the electro-pop stylings of acts like Hot Chip, and prominently featured his own vocals. It took a while for me to come around. Ultimately I liked it, but it’s far from my favorite RJ album.
All this brings us to The Colossus, released on his newly formed label, RJ’s Electrical Connections. This album is definitely his most schizophrenic to date. While his first three seemed to have clear themes, The Colossus sounds more like a collection of songs that didn’t have a home, so RJ put them all in one spot. Not that anything is necessarily bad, it’s just lacking the cohesiveness of his past work. There are good songs, even good pockets of a few songs at a time, just not a full collection. This feels more like a collection of about three EPs than an album. Plus there is the problem of not having a song on the album that completely knocked me over. I realize this isn’t fair, but when I first put on “Exotic Talk,” I was freaking out and making other people listen to it. I did not have that kind of reaction at any point with The Colossus.
You might notice that most of my complaints are contextual, and stem from having been a fan since early on in his career. After spending a considerable amount of time with the album, I can say it has grown on me. There are weird shifts in mood and style in the album, but there are stretches that I really get lost in. The one-two punch of “The Shining Path” and “Crumbs Off The Table” make me wonder what a full-length retro-soul album by RJ might sound like. I’d listen to it, that’s for sure. There are other points of the album that hint at a hardcore rap style that I might be curious to listen to if only see what directions he might take it. I think a lot of people are having a strange reaction to this album because it’s not a clear-cut answer as to what they are listening to. However, I think that hating on this album is taking the easy way out. It’s not his best effort to date, but RJ gives us plenty to like here.
|Title:||RJD2 - The Colossus|
|Label:||RJ’s Electrical Connections|