RJD2 The Colossus

RJD2 The Colossus
Like DJ Shadow, Dan the Automator, and Diplo, Ramble John Krohn is a millennial hip-hop innovator who's spent the last decade wheel barrowing around the ground he initially broke. Cleaving the earth in 2002 with Deadringer, he filled the many demands for backing tracks that followed for artists like MF Doom, Cage and Aceyalone. Unsatisfied with wunderkind status (he called his early work "moron music"), he then tackled the weight of crates containing soul, pop and disco tracks on the lopsided but vibrant Since We Last Spoke. Jumping to XL in 2007, he dropped his dubious version of a singer-songwriter record (The Third Hand), which was met with a resounding "meh." Ushering in the twenteens on his own new label, The Colossus features RJD2 taking a few giant steps backwards to the turntable, sampler and the beats that buttered his bread. Instrumentals like "Let There Be Horns," "Giant Squid" and "Tin Flower" revisit a funk groove dirtied-up by sleazy keyboards that stray from'70s vintage, at times. Better yet is '90s nostalgic "A Son's Cycle," layering a lazy, minimalist beat and space keys under guest vocals by the Catalyst, Illogic and NP. On the minus side are incongruous and afflictive '80s touches ("Games You Can Win" and "Crumbs Off the Table") that hit all the wrong notes. Think DeBarge, for example. RJ's odd soft rock/R&B tendencies also ooze out on "The Shining Path," featuring icky vocals by Phonte. Imagine Billy Ocean stumbling across a book of Beck's discarded lyrics and the strangeness that might ensue. Toss in a few White Album-era Paul McCartney B-sides ("Gypsy Caravan") and the fractured picture is complete. To say the album lacks cohesion is like saying Rush Limbaugh lacks perspective, but this is as much about showing off a depth of field as providing entertainment. Best to take what you want and leave the rest. (RJ's Electrical Connections)