Incredible. Amazing. Magnificent. Brilliant. Take your pick. Rjd2’s Deadringer is quite simply a masterpiece. The most appropriate genre for the album is hip-hop, but it is not like any hip-hop album put out prior (three of the tracks have MCs rhyming, the rest instrumental). Rjd2 has been compared to the Avalanches, DJ Shadow and Moby, but this album has its own identity. On Deadringer songs are never the same from beginning to end, they are unpredictable and will surprise listeners. From funk to soul to breakbeats, the album is Rjd2’s musical showcase.
The album begins with “The Horror,” a strange and spooky track that had my head boppin’ in 11 seconds flat. The song is definitely quirky, but it’s catchy and has complex layers of sounds and samples that at first listen you may not even notice. “Smoke & Mirrors” combines pianos, keyboards, horns, drums, and the vocal samples to put together a dreary yet, epic song. Just as you are blown away, “Good Times Roll Pt. 2” switches your mood completely as you start dancing your ass off. This track is like having your own personal party.
“Final Frontier” displays Rjd2’s production work for emcee Blueprint. The track exemplifies Rjd2’s versatility as he comes through with a more typical hip-hop song. The songs with emcees rhyming are all good and the production and the rhymes work well together. However, the songs seem almost too different from the rest of the album. Some may welcome the change, but I would have preferred the tracks with emcees to be put out on a separate album. The strongest tracks on Deadringer are the tracks with Rjd2 receives no assistance from emcees.
“Ghostwriter” guitars catch your attention, then it builds layer upon layer. At the sound of the first burst of the horns, you will be in love. By the sixteenth song you have experienced an amazing album. The last track, “Work,” is an appropriate end to the album. At this point you’re ready to leave the theater, happy you spent your $15. The story is over, happy ending. But wait- “Deadringer” has a hidden track, and it is quite possibly the best track on the album. The track represents the album in a nutshell. Funky, soulful, and downright beautiful. Rjd2’s Deadringer is 16 songs of excellence that will have you shaking your head in amazement.– 2002