Dusted Reviews

RJD2 - The Colossus

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: RJD2

Album: The Colossus

Label: RJ’s Electrical Connections

Review date: Jan. 11, 2010

Without going too far down the path of critical retrospection, I have to wonder if now isn’t the time to start questioning the “classic” labeling of early millennial records. Legacies unfold much more quickly now with such prolific, derivative output, which helps shine a light, or leave us shamefully perplexed, about what we were thinking.

In this case, I think it’s worth putting RJD2’s Deadringer under the microscope sometime soon. Not just because maybe we know better now (I’ve never been a believer, no matter how many DJ Shadow comparisons you break out). But because of what’s happened between then and today’s The Colossus. As far as RJD2 himself goes, not much. It all sounds very much expected, and very much the same. Which wouldn’t be so bad if that didn’t mean putting himself in the same crowd as so many corporatized, for-sale-at-the-mall acts.

Today, RJD2 is not that far from the cloying, mass-produced, utterly vacuous electro-rap of people like 3OH!3, Dirt Nasty, Mickey Avalon, LMFAO. The production is a little bit slower to fit some more feelings in, and a little more diverse so he can lay claims to such adjectives as “lush” and “full.” But it never really fills out. The Colossus’s “Games You Can Win” drives slow with an incredibly whiny Kenna and an empty MPC beat. “Giant Squid” follows behind to move things along, but the guitar and drum kit are so soulless as to make the track feel like a punishment.

When he’s completely on his own, things definitely pick up, veering more toward the latter-day R&B soul revivalism of Estelle, Nicole Willis, and even Cee-Lo. “The Glow” and “The Shining,” with Phonte Coleman’s help, come real close to the first Gnarls Barkley record, and even veer towards Sergeant Pepper territory on closer “Walk With Me.” These moments are fleeting, though, especially with constant reminders that this is not just derivative, but ersatz soul music. Real instruments give way to synthesized tones on “Crumbs Off the Table,” which slides from a kind of funk send-up back into Calvin Harris territory.

In the end, there’s no doubt this is the same old RJD2, which is the main problem. His one-time peers are steps ahead of him, which has left him that much closer to the rest of the heap. The R&B soul retread leaves the better aftertaste, but gets overshadowed by nimbler sample-innovators like Edan’s Echo Party. And whatever sounds vaguely “current” is far too evocative of the worst of the worst white-boy provocateur joke rap. The instrumentals have hit their stride as easily digestible TV theme songs, but 10 years into the game, I doubt he wants his legacy to play out on AMC reruns. There’s no way Don Draper would approve.

By Evan Hanlon

Other Reviews of RJD2

Dead Ringer

Since We Last Spoke

Read More

View all articles by Evan Hanlon

Find out more about RJ’s Electrical Connections

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.