The Third Hand was not received well. On the 2007 album by Indie Hip Hop producer RJD2, he concentrated on throwing his singing voice into his slow-cooked stew of scratched, sample-heavy sonics. After it came out, RJ stopped paying attention to the press.
“I used to read reviews of my albums,” he recalls. Alternative Press' take on The Third Hand was overwhelmingly positive; Spin's was another story. “It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't good. It was not pleasant. I had this realization right there that this shit doesn't make me happy. It's not doing anything for me, so I'm just going to stop, and I've been happier for it.”
The ex-Ohioan's (he’s now based in Philly) latest album is The Colossus, which contrasts his last polarizing project by adding vocalists like Kenna and Illogic.
“Looking to myself for all the elements didn't sound appealing,” he says. “Records should be something exciting and fresh, and part of that is keeping the process exciting and different.”
However, no changes came in response to what was said about The Third Hand. “Music, for me, is not reactionary. To go in the studio because of what someone else either wants or doesn't want to hear would be a hollow experience.”
The Colossus is a canvas of collages: The soulful thump of “Let There Be Horns” is only tangentially related to “Small Plans” (which has the sleek Funk of the theme song to a ’70s spy flick), whereas “The Stranger” drifts between foreboding and vibrant. This work carries on RJ's mission to grow into making “good Pop music” (as he's declared in previous interviews).
“If you go back to 1999 and the MHz days, that was just Rap,” he says, referencing his Columbus crew. “Instrumental music can be Pop to me as much as vocal music. There are things on this new album that might not be fair to call Pop but it's not meant to be abrasive. It's meant to be enjoyed.”
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)