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Monday, October 18, 2021

Ask RJD2

There is a raw art in revitalizing the complete unprocessed synergy of where the root of hip-hop and music is inspired – that is, through rhythm, beat and soul. And this is exactly what Ramble John Krohn, more widely known as RJD2, knows how to do.

Working with prominent rappers and artists in the “underground” hip-hop scene such as Soul Position, Cunninlynguists, Copywrite, The Catalyst and Aceyalone, RJD2 has produced an eclectic range of instrumental and soul-laced arrangements. Creative track titles, magnetic beats, somnambulant flows and unique vocal collaborations make RJD2 an unstoppable force.

Tonight, RJD2 will take on the Freeborn Hall stage for the first time with works from previous albums and EPs such as The Horror, Deadringer, Since We Last Spoke, The Third Hand and the newly released album, The Colossus (2010).

MUSE had the opportunity to speak with RJD2 prior to his show. But this time, the students had the chance to ask him the questions. Keeping it real – short and simple – here’s what he had to say.

Where do you get all of your inspiration?

-Michelle Sora Yoon, senior textiles and clothing and Japanese double major

At this point, just making music inspires me. But it used to be from my favorite artists and records – from De La Soul to Zeppelin, really.

What three albums must you have in your car?

-Andre Jeremy Watts, UC Davis ’09

Weather Report’s Heavy Weather, Zeppelin’s III and right now, Kanye [West]’s new one.

The Third Hand was a radical departure from Since We Last Spoke and even more so from Deadringer. What inspired you to focus more on singing and live instruments for that album?

-Mitch Davis, first-year biochemistry and molecular biology double major

It had been a gradual progression; there was live stuff and singing on Since We Last Spoke. It just got expanded on The Third Hand.

How have the dance and B-boy movements impacted how you compose your work?

-Adrian Kim, UC Davis ’08

Not directly, but making danceable music has always been a priority to me, especially in the late ’90s and early 2000s when lots of stuff was slow and plodding.

Who or what album/group/artist got you into the hip-hop scene? (If it was a specific DJ, then who?) How did you come to create beats that simply ooze hip-hop, being raised in predominantly rural or semi-rural areas?

-Daniel D. Kim, senior psychology major

Well, I started out making beats for rappers. So the feel of the tracks I did for my own albums were informed by that. I wasn’t trying to make alternatives to rap music beats, I was trying to just take the arrangement of a rap beat three steps further.

You work with artists across the board, from the grass roots to the tree tops, but if you had the chance to collaborate with any big name artist(s) that you have yet to work with, who would that be?

-Lisette Betsinger, senior comparative literature and medieval studies major

D’Angelo – he’s my favorite modern singer.

One can argue that The Colossus sounds a lot different than your previous works. How does The Colossus reflect where you’re at musically in the moment? What does the future hold for RJD2?

-Jennifer Urrutia, junior environmental policy analysis and planning major

It’s really the first “cumulative” type of album I’ve ever made, since now is the first time I can look back and actually have different eras of my catalog future – more experimentation.

In your opinion, what lasting character does the craft of good beat-making have on people?

-Kevin Ohle, junior landscape architecture major

Oh, that’s up to the fans. I can’t answer that!

UYEN CAO can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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