Better? Not This Time Around
Soul Positionâ€šÃ„Ã´s second full-length album, Things Go Better With RJ and AL, is difficult to gauge. Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s a record mired in dichotomies that lacks the consistency and quality — both musically and lyrically — of RJD2 and Blueprintâ€šÃ„Ã´s brilliant debut. While calling it a disappointment would be far too abrasive and inaccurate, referring to the record as a triumphant follow-up to 8 Million Stories would be far from the truth.Things Go Better begins promising enough with an atmospheric intro bleeding into the sanctimonious rhymes of â€šÃ„ÃºNo Gimmicks,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Blueprintâ€šÃ„Ã´s iconoclastic manifesto to keeping it real. His words are nothing short of biting in â€šÃ„ÃºHand-Me-Downsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ as he basically sums up Michael Omi and Howard Winantâ€šÃ„Ã´s seminal book, Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1980s, in 3:17. Carried by RJD2â€šÃ„Ã´s trademark, mid-â€šÃ„Ã²70s detective-show melodies, the song pleases on multiple levels. The hits keep a-cominâ€šÃ„Ã´ on â€šÃ„ÃºThe Extra Mile,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a heavy-hitting, funk-drenched jam complete with exploding horns and arrogant lyrics.
The thrills are short-lived, however. The album gets gimmicky in the case of â€šÃ„ÃºI Need My Minutesâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºBlame it on the Jager,â€šÃ„Ã¹ the latter being an ode to Blueprintâ€šÃ„Ã´s libation of choice and reason for acting like the same goons he bemoans on earlier tracks. For his part, RJD2â€šÃ„Ã´s beats on both songs donâ€šÃ„Ã´t help as they sound lazy and lack his uncanny knack for retro-inspired hip hop. At times the album also gets careless, as with lyrics attributing homosexuality to sexual abuse on â€šÃ„ÃºDrugs, Sex, Alcohol, Rock-n-Roll.â€šÃ„Ã¹
While Things Go Better is a respectable sophomore effort, it is far from the cleverness and creativity that made 8 Million Stories a classic.