"The Colossus" by RJD2

RJD2
The Colossus

RJ's Electrical Connections
2010

Review

I own plenty of RJD2 albums. I own his solo projects - Deadringer, Since We Last Spoke, The Horror, The Third Hand. I own his collaborations - Soul Position ("8 Million Stories" (Classic) and "Thing Go Better With RJ and AL) and his work with Aceyalone in "Magnificent City" (and the instrumentals to boot). So I guess you could say that I am a fan of RJD2's work. I still feel that Deadringer is his best work to date, followed closely by "8 Million Stories"). After his last album went in a more Electronic direction rather than straight-up Instrumental Hip-Hop (a direction that - while it had its moments and perhaps was a necessary personal step to take as an artist - I did not feel played up to RJ's strengths) I was left to wonder what end of the spectrum his latest work, "The Colossus" would end up. The answer is somewhere in the middle. The reasons why I think so are but a single solitary click away.

Oh RJD2 (I wonder if it's ok if I just say "RJ"?) you blew my mind with Deadringer, somewhat let me down with The Horror, but each and every album always had something great on it. So when I say that The Third Hand didn't play up to your strengths, I only mean to say that it seemed more like a first attempt at a concept that had not yet been completely fleshed out yet. See, you always bring the Funk, and the Soul with a shade of the Hip-Hop, and I guess I wasn't prepared for the RJD2 as the performer role. It's not easy to put yourself out there, and after a few listens, I really started to vibe on it. But it took a second. But this time, you've brought it all together. The Funk is back as is the Soul (boy is it ever - ask Phonte). And yet, there are some really smart collaborations this time around and it sounds like there's a bit more confidence in your singing voice. So yeah, I think you are brilliant, but this one puts together all your influences fantastically and as a fan I am happy to hear it!

(Compilation Review Mode: Go, Go, Go!)

Let There Be Horns - What a way to start the album! With some straight up raucous horns. MF Doom would kill on this track. Or maybe Ghostface. The point being that this is on some ill Hip Hop business (in spite of some very real Rock touches).

Games You Can Win (Feat. Kenna) - KENNA! On an RJD2 produced track? Man. Kenna gets a raw deal because peeps don't know who the hell the man is (New Sacred Cow. Get it.) and then he went off and made a record with the Neptunes and I had to respect that decision although I was leery at first. Thankfully it turned out pretty ok. Anyhow, I love Kenna and he seems to compliment RJD2's production perfectly (go one and work together again). I loved the very real chemistry between these two (I think that RJ is even singing backup on this one). In a strange way I guess that RJD2's production isn't that different from what Kenna himself would have done which makes the track work so well.

Giant Squid - Some Santana-ish sound guitar chords open the track, until giving way to something a bit more metal. Very airy sounding guitars result in a playful track in that RJD2 style.

The Glow - Immediately whenever I hear "The Glow" I think of "The Last Dragon". But no, there's no Vanity to be found here, just RJD2 in his "The Third Hand" mode. Thankfully RJ's a decent singer. Lyrically things are pretty simple, but the performance and the instrumentals keep it together:

We got the glow
We got the glow
We don't pax tax
We pay to get new poles
We got the glow
We got the glow
The future's good when there's nothing left to know

A Spaceship For Now - Very operatic with a touch of Genesis.

The Shining Path (Feat. Phonte Coleman) - RJD2 does Soul music. I'm not yet all too sure whether or not people associate Phonte with R&B/Soul music or if he's still "just a rapper" (speaking of which, is Phonte the male Queen Latifah? Nah, Phonte's a better rapper =P). I guess it depends on what you listen to. Lately dude has been showing up all over the place to sing a hook or two (Maybe Phonte's the new Nate Dogg?). Well, I digress. On this track RJD2 shows some of the great old-timey Soul music sensibilities that he showed us on Dead Ringer. Meanwhile, Phonte kills it as per usual.

Crumbs Off The Table (Feat. Aaron Livingston) - RJD2 mixes "The Funk" with broadway and early Prince. Again RJ makes a convincing argument as a Soul music producer. This one makes me smile every time I hear it. I've never heard of Aaron Livingstong, but he holds it down quite well.

A Son's Cycle (Feat. The Catalyst, Illogic & NP) - A Hip-Hop track. And not just any Hip-Hop track, but one that reminds us of "June". Now is this one as good as that one? Well, no. But that has more to do with the impersonality of the lyrics rather than the production (c'mon, how can you mess with a track about the difficulties in celebrating your birthdate when your own father passed on the very same day? Yeah, you can't. Even with "working hard to achieve my dreams" lyrics"). It seems strange for me to say that this track feels a bit out of place...but it does. Which is not to say it is a bad track, it's just different from the flow of those that surround it.

Tin Flower - Wow. Funk complete with organ. And flutes. Yes, together. And I love it.

Small Plans - RJ's attempt to make something for the dance floor is that is missing something.

Gypsy Caravan - doh A bit too experimental. But RJ's spin on Rock could work given time.

The Stranger - Here comes the Rock. Very serious sounding guitar chords are the anchor to some James-bond horns. Really saved by what it becomes at the end.

Walk With Me - Funk, Soul, R&B all back to the forefront in Beatles tortilla.

3.846 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Let There Be Horns (04:09) 4
2. Games You Can Win (feat. Kenna) (05:26) 5
3. Giant Squid (04:08) 4
4. Salud 2 (00:49)
5. The Glow (04:26) 4
6. A Spaceship for Now (03:15) 3
7. The Shining Path (feat. Phonte Coleman) (04:08) 5
8. Crumbs Off the Table (feat. Aaron Livingston) (04:04) 5
9. A Son's Cycle (feat. The Catalyst, Illogic & NP) (04:05) 4
10. Tin Flower (03:48) 5
11. Small Plans (04:32) 3
12. Gypsy Caravan (02:13) 2
13. The Stranger (03:59) 3
14. Walk With Me (05:24) 3