RJD2 Since We Last Spoke

How do you follow up a debut credited by underground heads as saving hip-hop? If you’re RJD2, you ignore the hype and do what you do best: make world-weary beats laced with lush samples and plenty of soul. Whereas Deadringer fluctuated from its haunting sci-fi opener to the acerbic diatribe of "F.H.H.,” Since We Last Spoke zeroes in on a vibe closer to the velvet-smooth "Smoke & Mirrors.” Before, the sparse yet brilliant use of guest rappers provided a nice counterpoint to the instrumental madness. Here, their absence is a pitfall that could have been easily avoided. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to top such an amazing debut, but at least no one can blame RJ for lack of effort. (Definitive Jux)