Music Reviews


Dead Ringer

Definitive Jux

Def Jux is an upstart hip-hop label most definitely on the rise. Started by Company Flow’s El-P, it already has an impressive roster, including Mr. Lif, Cannibal Ox, and Aesop Rock, that has garnered hails from all corners of the hip-hop kingdom. Some of those cheers have already fallen on RJD2 and will continue to bless his wax as long as he keeps coming up with gems like Dead Ringer. This native Ohioan is the latest in a long line of hip-hop DJ/producers who’s stepping out of the shadows to glimmer in his own light. Having already made Copywrite and MHz shine brighter than they had before, it’s about time.

The man has an authentic touch, crafting meaty beats that’ll move you. however, it’s not a simple matter of looping with the guy. He molds songs with deft progressions and intriguing breaks, flipping scripts and leaving you stunned like a grit-textured David Blaine sidewalk show (just check out “The Chicken-Bone Circuit”). This disc is a work to bite bullets and dance to – much like early Rza.

Take “Good Times Roll Part 2,” for instance. This bad boy moves with a sugar shack Stax quickness with some real nice ’80s “Flygirl” breaks. There’s also the haunting trip-hoppy, disemboweled blues of “Smoke & Mirrors,” reminiscent of Broadway Project. “Silver Fox” has Ayers written all over it, neo style.

What is most impressive about this RJD2 is how he marries more seemingly disparate elements than a Vegas preacher. “Two More Dead,” for example, matches a rocking early R&B piano riff with a spaced-out early fusion chorus, some soul diva spurts, and a splash of scratching over a perfectly chopped beat and “June” amazingly combines Copywrite’s rhyming with a lilting guitar, a cherubic chorus, distortion, some Richard “Groove” Holmes Hammond play, and ambient synths.

Dead Ringer simply refuses to stop amazing you.

Definitive Jux:

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