Today we introduce the Mxdwn Triple Threat! This new format gives three writers a chance at an album that has been around for a while and proven that it has some merit. Together with our Creative Director Adam Baker and our Promotional Representative Paul Jarrett, we decided that the ideal first candidate for the Mxdwn Triple Threat would be RJD2’s Deadringer. If this is a format you would like to see us revisit on occasion, let us know!Steve Mangione: With DJ Shadow breathing new life into old vinyl, Kid 606 manically beat-matching Missy Elliot, Eminem and A-HA together and Dr. Dre introducing a new generation to P-Funk, it is a good time for sampled music. As this new genre continues its upswing in popularity, one young DJ is rising above the rest of the underground to make something truly inspirational. RJD2’s debut Deadringer came out in July 2002 and in little more than a year has already stirred up quite the buzz.
RJD2 has a talent for blending classic jazz and R&B tracks with homemade beats into some of the best instrumental hip hop out there. This talent ensures that he will continue to have a good home at Definitive Jux, a New York based label started by producer/MC El-P (formerly of Company Flow) that also includes such innovative MCs as Aesop Rock and Cannibal Ox. There is an amazing diversity to the sounds and feelings that RJD2 conjures. “The Horror” sounds like a club remix of Night Rider gone horribly wrong. The intoxicating melodic hook of “Cut Out the FL” is guaranteed to make any toe tap, supported perfectly by RJD2’s precision sampling and scratching. “Final Frontier” demonstrates how one of RJD2’s tracks can be brought to a whole new level by a good MC, in this case Blueprint, who also collaborated with RJ on the Soul Position EP. Deadringer is ambitious and wildly successful, leaving me waiting impatiently to hear more of his collaborations with the rest of the Def Jux family.
Adam Baker: As Picasso once said: Good artists borrow; great artists steal. Maybe that’s why sampled music may be reaching new heights in commercial popularity. The music world seems to have gotten off debate of whether sampling is artistically valid or not and accepted it (they have bigger fish to fry, think RIAA). Granted it has been around forever, from the early electronic pioneers like The Human League and Kraftwerk to the very roots of hip hop like the Sugarhill Gang and Run DMC. What makes RJD2’s sampling unique is its subtlety. When you hear a P.Diddy track you know you’re listening to a beefed up riff of some one-hit-wonder 80’s track. Deadringer, however, seems to exhibit some control with its sampling.
RJD2 crafts his beats so well you don’t even know it’s torn from a KFC commercial. Contrary to the mainstream, he pulls inspiration from older acts than A-HA and The Police. Instead he breathes a new life into old blues and jazz tracks with intoxicating precision. RJD2 claims no musical allegiances: east coast, west coast, rock, metal, trance, breakbeats, whatever. To me, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. I’m a slave to the rhythm if you will. And RJD2’s Deadringer serves the beats that satisfy the primal urge to shake your moneymaker.
Paul Jarrett: Deadringer marks a new direction for hip hop. RJD2 and his cohorts at Def Jux pioneer a sound separated from the mediocre hip pop strategy pervaded with violent, woman hating, bling bling attitudes that seem to dominate the mainstream. RJD2 is shadowing a more underground approach to making sounds, and he’s right on track combining old school records with new self produced samples to create the new high ground.
RJD2’s best at taking sounds from different times and making them work together perfectly. “Smoke and Mirrors” and “Work” off of Deadringer combine soulful vocal tracks with perfectly laidback beats to create transcendental sounds. Skillfully adding samples always at the right place at the right time in a song is a difficult task; Deadringer sees it consistently executed. His breakdowns and scratching add textures to complete his sonic palette and appeal to the most discriminating of ears. RJD2 also avoids the trend of finding a formula that works and smothering it to death. The hardcore sounds of “F.H.H.” with Jakki the Motamouth laying rhymes over RJ’s beats contrasts nicely with the calm instrumental jam “The Proxy” and the upbeat funk infusion of “2 More Dead”. The underground hip hop revolution will not be televised, but it can be heard here.