Nas claimed Hip Hop is Dead with the release of his latest album last year and it sounds like RJD2 agrees. He told Pitchfork back in September “I’ve gone rap free in 2006” and he’s making good on this promise with the release of his third album The Third Hand on March 5th.
Once signed to esteemed independent hip hop label Def Jux, he is now with XL recordings and is about to release his poppiest album yet. It may horrify you, you may be repulsed but if you’re honest, you could see it coming. From Deadringer – the DJ Shadow-esque sample heavy hip hop record to Since We Last Spoke – a synth-laden funky indie-rock update with vocals by RJD2, his career thus far has displayed an eagerness to experiment and The Third Hand is no different. Moving towards a strange mix of major chord 80’s pop, soundtrack composer tendencies, MOR and vocally driven arrangements he pushes this ethos further. If you’re looking for a reference think “Making Days Longer” from Since we last Spoke but that’s only half the story.
Recorded with all live instrumentation in his basement, You won’t find no sampling here. Take the two tracks below, both of which have the core RJD2 rhythm but accentuate it with the elements listed above. “Get It” has cooed background vocals and tinkly keyboards while “Beyond the Beyond” is a spacey groovy workout with archaic synthesizers. I’m not sold as yet, and much of the album veers too close to MOR pop to really standout.
In the aforemented Pitchfork article, he claims the record is born out a desire “to make pop music” which is all well and good (As he says Queens of the Stone Age essentially, make great pop music) but The Third Hand is, at times, too bewildering / abstract to make a dent in the alternative pop universe.
The Third Hand is released on the 5th of March