Published Mar 23, 2016Instrumental hip-hop guru and all-round beat aficionado RJD2 is back to his old tricks again — well, almost back to them. His latest offering, Dame Fortune, is being hailed as a return to the style that was his making, but that's not entirely accurate. True, it's a step up from the jazz-rock leanings of 2013's More is Than Isn't, and the percussion is very reminiscent of his early work, but Dame Fortune is scarcely hip-hop at all. This is a soul record, and a solid one at that.
Recorded over the last year in Philadelphia, the album is heavily influenced by the city's rich soul history, as RJD2, an avid crate-digger, found his inspiration in Philly's records of old. "Band of Matron Saints" featuring the booming, scratchy vocals of Josh Krajick, serves as the album's last hooray, while "Peace of What" could easily be snuck onto a best of '60s funk and soul comp without anyone batting an eyelid.
Dame Fortune is actually far less reliant on samples than some of his previous work, too. Tracks like "Your Nostalgic Heart and Lung" and "PF, Day One" find RJD2 exploring the depths of his own synth work, without a sample in sight. Granted, they are actually some of the weaker tracks on the album, but it's a step towards a more mature sound that has room to grow.
Some long-term fans might rebuff Dame Fortune, just expecting another Dead Ringer, but that was 14 years ago. It's time to let that go and allow the man to evolve. Besides, he looks good in soul anyway. (RJ's Electrical Connections)