RJD2 Dead Ringer

After dropping numerous tracks over the past couple of years, it's finally time for RJD2 to drop his long-awaited solo outing. The up-and-coming producer has been compared to the likes of DJ Shadow, after teasing the public with stunning singles like "Silver Fox" and "Two More Dead," and as he pieced together his debut, people wondered how he would bridge the gaps between his musical styles. Dead Ringer plays very much like the soundtrack to a motion picture, especially when starting things off with "The Horror," which is similar to the opening credits of a '70s spy flick. RJD2 hits tracks from every angle and just can't sit still in the musical spectrum, flipping vintage feel-good funk in "Good Times Roll Pt. 2" then painting a sombre and deep atmosphere lined with a classical guitar loop in "June." The jumping from one genre to another is what keeps Dead Ringer so fresh and on its toes, and this combined sound may very well be due to the fact that the album contains older material. Still, with a producer who builds and creates his craft through the sampling of dusty records, it would be hard not to have an overwhelming amount of influences from all the categories of music in your vinyl collection. RJD2 can assemble a furious and fast-paced wall of drum breaks, like he does with "Chicken-Bone Circuit," and then halt his tempo to a repetitive loop for MCs like Blueprint and Jakki to spread words over. From funk to soul to classic rock and tying it all together with the common thread of hip-hop is what makes Dead Ringer such a challenging record, and a challenge that RJD2 took on full force. It should be interesting to see what the producer has in store for a more direct and focused record in the future, now that he's tied up all his loose ends. (Def Jux)