‘The Colossus’ | RJD2

| Senior Cadenza Editor

In his fourth studio album, RJD2 takes music into his own hands by producing “The Colossus” under his new, self-owned record label. With this expansion in musical freedom, the talented musician-singer fuses a wide variety of genres, blending the likes of hip-hop, jazz, pop and rock into one sound. His progressing creativity at times dominates the listener’s ability to appreciate the individual sounds, but overall the combination of diverse styles reveals RJD2’s remarkable capacity for making innovative and entertaining music.

The producer starts the album with one of the finest tracks, “Let There Be Horns.” From the very beginning, RJD2 displays his incredible knack for incorporating horn instruments into all musical styles. He blends a smooth hip-hop beat with a mixture of synthesizers that give the track a futuristic feel. He mixes up the melodies often, but always keeps the same tempo, allowing the listener to experience a wide variety of RJD2’s numerous sounds. To conclude the song, the producer brings together the horns and assorted melodies into a unified instrumental, a brilliant conclusion to a brilliant track.

In a few tracks on “The Colossus,” RJD2 reveals one of his many strengths: his voice. In “The Glow,” the composer lays down some smooth lyrics over a velvety jazz instrumental. RJD2 sings of the splendors of life: women, money and traveling to name a few. While such superficial topics would usually turn me off, RJD2 successfully avoids such a haughty appearance. He classifies such materialistic items as a “glow,” and truly gives the song class when the lyrics are combined with the jazzy piano and drums. This track brings to mind Lupe Fiasco’s “Paris, Tokyo,” as RJD2 entertains the listener with the worldly glories of life, but is sure to focus the song on enjoying life in all its ways.

“The Colossus” also displays its might with the accompaniment of several talented feature artists. Kenna, a Grammy-nominated singer, contributes fantastic vocals over one of the album’s paramount instrumentals, “Games You Can Win.” The duo of Kenna’s smooth voice and the beat’s peaceful infusion of bell chimes makes the perfect combination for RJD2’s unique sound.

In “Crumbs Off The Table,” the addition of Aaron Livingston to RJD2’s horn-infused beat makes for the album’s best track. The lyrics are by far the smartest on the record, as Livingston declares, “I don’t mind, I take the crumbs off the table…if it gets me to the table to eat at all.” The next time I’m driving around town and the sun is beaming, I’ll be sure to put the windows down and the volume up on this track. It’s just that kind of music.

While listening to the album, I kept waiting for some rap lyrics to accompany one of RJD2’s hip-hop beats. “A Son’s Cycle” is worth the wait. This track has one of the more somber tones on the record, as the featured artists thrash out over the rise, glory and fall of the human being: “This cycle is changin’ me, I’m no longer the same, 93 million miles ahead of the game.” The recurring words of the hook, “I know you’re sleepin’ if you don’t feel me,” embody the track’s true essence.

With all the good that is on “The Colossus,” there is still some bad. At times, RJD2 seems to try too hard to bring in a unique sound. In tracks like “Giant Squid” and “A Spaceship For Now,” the producer combines far too many instruments and effects into a single beat, keeping the listener from appreciating each individual sound. This prevents you from appreciating the song in its unified form. While this negative feature plagues a few songs, it certainly does not keep the album from prominence.

RJD2 is without a doubt one of the freshest and most inventive producers I have heard in a long time. The majority of the tracks are incredibly entertaining, and they allow for listeners with all musical tastes to enjoy the imaginative productions. With his unification of assorted styles, RJD2 has the sound and ability to work with a range of genres, from hip-hop to jazz to electronic. In the interlude, “Salud 2,” RJD2 declares over the hectic instrumental that “this may be my last, but hopefully not.” After listening to his new album, “The Colossus,” there is one more fan hoping RJD2 has plenty more to come.

For fans of: DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist
Tracks to download: ‘Let There Be Horns’, ‘Crumbs Off The Table’, ‘A Son’s Cycle’

  • Anonymous

    i was actually referred to RJD2 from a “bands like” tool when reading up on Ratatat, I love this album, so glad i checked out RJD2, a son’s cycle is probably the kind of music i would give lots of money to hear more of, rap with cool beats like that and not hippie but not gangster lyrics make me really enjoy it. so happy

  • Debo

    Great review! I’ve been a fan of Rjd2 from the beginning, I’m always excited to hear what he does next. I think for one to fully appreciate this album, you just need to listen to it a few times, then you can pick out the sounds and hear how it all comes together. It’s excellent and I’m addicted.