In this age of DJs, mash-up artists, and pseudomusicians with FruityLoops, it’s now more of a pain in the ass to find the good shit in all the weeds. Everyone’s got a remix to hock, so for an artist to be taken seriously, it tends to take a few albums. Unless you’re damn good. Case in point: RJD2. Ever since his debut, Deadringer, he’s been on the indie hip-hop radar, and his new album, The Third Hand is further proof that he’s not just a blip.
Further shedding of his rap/mix persona for more of a electro-folk-hop twang, RJD2 shoots some soul into his third album with real instruments that he actually played himself. By doing so, not only does he elevate his status from samplemeister DJ to multi-instrumental pimp, he introduces a new sound: a sick blend of urban beats and operatic folk. Each track on The Third Hand has a distinct effect, whether it’s from powerful lyrics, a tight beat, or an unheard-of, eccentric flow.
One of RJD2’s new trademarks is his soul-glo vocals, which he mixes brilliantly on the album. "Have Mercy" busts out slick echoes and wails that lace a dark jam. "Work It Out" has swirling melodies wrapped around a chill acoustic romp. His acoustic skills are prevalent throughout The Third Hand, and he’s able to produce a variety of moods and structures. "Someday" is a little barbershop mixed with The Beatles’ "Julia". Beyond this, though, are his hip-hop elements that are blended and remixed with sheer originality. Combined, the album is an inspired take on an increasingly diverse urban landscape.
Altogether, The Third Hand is an intelligent, chic, chill, smooth foray into a newer side of hip-hop. RJD2 takes the basics and expands on nearly ever tangent of his beats while adding on highly creative folk and electronic sounds. He’s the real deal, he’s just getting better, and carving out a big chunk of the unknown while doing it.