Back in the Winter of 2005, I officially moved to Seattle. As I was being hired for my first job here, a night auditor in a piece of shit crack hotel, I made only one request; I needed December 29th off to catch DJ Greyboy at a Macy’s department store downtown. I scurried around the building and, when I finally found Greyboy‘s setup, the DJ was in the young mens section, spinning Steely Dan‘s “Black Cow” and he had a table full of free Dominos Pizza and cans of Pepsi. He was down to talk and didn’t seem concerned that I was one of only 2 people who were there to see him at that point. I asked him what a producer/DJ like himself was was doing in the tween wing of a department store like that and he explained that, since he was sponsored by Ocean Pacific, he sometimes had to make those type of appearances. He asked me to add him on myspace, but explained that there was a fake music account for him and that his was the one without the music player, “I don’t even fuck with the music“. He further explained to me about a project that he was working on, which I believe he had planned to put out within the following year or so. After that, Mr. Andreas Stevens seemed to, temporarily, disappear off of the map. He made a slight resurfacing to work with the Greyboy Allstars on their 2007 reformation project, but his creation of acid jazz-centric solo albums like Freestylin’, had all but ceased. He released a greatest hits style compilation in 2008 but, when he finally returned to his trademark sound on last years Era Correct, I completely missed it. The music industry has changed dramatically in a short period of time and, whether it was due to his disinterest in forced adaptability/conformity (ie. myspace) or a misguided assumption of his own staying power, the innovator slipped off the radar in a genre that he was the major player in pioneering.
This post isn’t really about Greyboy, however, but it is about the phenomenon of our favorite artists evaporating off of the face of the Earth. It is also a heads up about the next triumphant return by one of the greatest beat-makers of the last 10 years, because it has the potential to get buried in the current musical climate. The pseudo-resurrection, of which I’m referring, is of a one Ramble John Krohn, better known as “RJD2“.
Beyond his strikingly similar structure and physical characteristics, RJD2‘s career easily draws parallels to that of Greyboy‘s. This is primarily true in its highs and lows, as well as with his focus on taking his life and career in directions that are more focused on personal interests than industry standards. Krohn is primarily known for his breakout solo debut, DeadRinger (Def Jux 2002), as well as his rap project Soul Position (Rhymesayers) and the various other beats that he produced for the rap artists on the 2 respective labels that his projects were released on. The producer claims that he recorded his follow up solo album, with his “MPC plugged into the cigarette lighter of a rented minivan“, while on a 2003 tour with Soul Position. That album, Since We Last Spoke (2004), showed RJD2 moving away from the Dj Shadow-esque, hip-hop beats and into slightly more rock and vocal oriented directions. For the next follow up, he changed things up even more. RJ‘s last full-length release, 2007‘s The Third Hand, featured the artist abandoning his history of sampling, almost entirely, and using live vocal’s and instrumentation for the majority of the effort. The most surprising part about it was that the instruments and vocals were all performed personally by Krohn, as the album took the music into much more of a typical rock direction. The promotional tour even consisted of RJD2 performing and singing with a live band. The producer was clearly moving into new directions and, consequently, The Third Hand was not released by Def Jux at all, but rather by XL Recordings. The album also left many fans of RJD2‘s previous work confused and assuming that the sound that they had come to expect and love from one of their favorite artists, may have been lost forever.
It has now been 6 years since Krohn has released a primarily instrumental solo album that contains his signature sound, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been keeping busy. He’s worked on multiple side projects, contributed to a cookbook, and even scored Marc Ecko‘s video game, Getting Up. One extremely impressive accomplishment by the DJ, was the theme song that he created for the AMC progam Mad Men. Not only did it win him an ASCAP award for Best TV Theme, but it also gave hope that RJD2 was moving back into the instrumental direction that he was known for.
I understand the concept of establishing enough success to then allow someone to pursue whatever projects they wanted [Greyboy has even started his own Sidehack bike company], but that mindset may be too logical, because it does nothing for the selfish desires in those of us who want to hear more of what brought particular artists to those levels in the first place. The biggest problem is that things take time to cultivate and evolve and, since the general public has the attention span of a concussed fish, people can often only wait intently for so long, before they completely move on to something else. Now, after methodically plotting from his secret lair, RJD2 is beginning to unleash what he’s been painstakingly working on during recent years, with the hopes that his return will be a successful one and that his fans are still ready to cash in their weathered tickets to jump on board his beat-coaster.
Back on Aug. 20th of 2009, Krohn addressed his apparent absence through a Myspace blog:
“I have been SERIOUSLY busy in the last 2 years; and very little of it has to do with twittering. At the risk of sounding all corny, I feel the need to say something that’s important to me: I’ve realized recently that I do music, make records, LISTEN to records, tour, and generally hole myself up in the studio because I love it, not cause its my job. Its become as natural as breathing, and keeps me sane-most of the time. Im much more concerned with making a timeless record, than with how to sell a record nowadays. Also, if you don’t see me posting left and right on whatever the most current social networking site is, its not cause I don’t like being social, its cause I feel like our time on earth is very very short, and that the most I have to offer this planet in my little window of time here is through the vessel of music. I would rather leave behind something you can hopefully use a little more than an update on my belly button lint. Hopefully, a catalog that speaks more volumes than all the blogs I could possibly write in a hundred years“
At the top of the list of his new ventures is the formation of Krohn‘s very own record label, RJ’s Electrical Connections. In preparation for the new label, Ramble John acquired the rights to his original releases from Def Jux, and christened RJEC by reissuing the albums in a deluxe boxset simply titled “RJD2, 2002-2010“. The limited edition release featured vinyl only versions of the albums and special elaborate packaging.
The following is a detailed PRODUCT DESCRIPTION of 2002-2010
Featuring: Vinyl versions of ”Dead Ringer” LP, ”The Horror EP” (first time on vinyl!) ”Since We Last Spoke” LP, and the exclusive ”Tin Foil Hat” EP. (7 unreleased RJD2 songs spanning the eras of the first 3 RJD2 releases!) Hand silk screen RJD2 poster, signed and numbered by the dude himself. A beautiful box set , uniquely constructed to hold both ”The Third Hand” LP, and the forthcoming 5th RJD2 album! Dowload card giving you access to mp3’s of all material within, plus exclusive content! Limited to 500 copies.
The release seems intended to, not only tie up the first portion of Krohn‘s career, but to aid in offering a smooth transition for it into the future, as well. You will notice that the packaging mentions additional vinyl slots for The Third Hand and a “forthcoming release“. …yes? Well, the album being referenced will actually be dropping on January 19th and is titled THE COLOSSUS. Marking the 10th year of his career, the album is being advertised as a “myriad” of all of the different styles that the producer has explored over the last decade. Last month the artist released the first taste of his new album, in the form of a collaboration with vocalist KENNA called “Games You Can Win“, but his latest unveiling is much more exciting. This video, for the instrumental track “Let There Be Horns“, was just released today, January 6th, and follows a Minotaur through an average day of working a 9 to 5, commuting in a smart car, and suppressing his everyday frustrations by shoveling anti-depressants into his face.
For THE COLOSSUS release, RJD2 is offering multiple different pre-order options. These include packages that involve everything from digital downloads to limited release EPs, Vinyl, DVDs, and even hoodies. To check out all of the various packaging options, you can link to RJ’s Electrical Connections by clicking HERE.
If you are interested in receiving THE COLOSSUS on CD, with a limited RJD2 autographed booklet,, we recommend placing your pre-order through Newbury Comics. You can link to their site by clicking HERE.
For those of you who are into getting a related iPhone Touch Mix application, you’re in luck; RJD2 has recently even released one of those, too.
Since 2001, one thing that RJD2 has been doing consistently and without fail, is touring. The promotion for THE COLOSSUS will be no different, with an extensive schedule of U.S. performances, which will begin Sunday, January 10th in North Carolina, and span a total of 3 months, ending with a April 11th concert in Seattle.
Here is the complete list of tour dates:
|Sun 01.10.2010||CATS CRADLE, CARRBORO NC||CARRBORO, NC|
|Mon 01.11.2010||VISULITE THEATER-CHARLOTTE, NC||CHARLOTTE, NC|
|Tue 01.12.2010||LIVE WIRE MUSIC HALL||SAVANNAH, GA|
|Wed 01.13.2010||THE SOCIAL-ORLANDO, FL||ORLANDO, FL|
|Thu 01.14.2010||CROWBAR-TAMPA, FL||TAMPA, FL|
|Fri 01.15.2010||CLUB DOWNUNDER||TALLAHASSEE, FL|
|Sat 01.16.2010||MASQUERADE-ATLANTA, GA||ATLANTA, GA|
|Sun 01.17.2010||BOTTLETREE||BIRMINGHAM, AL|
|Mon 01.18.2010||RHYTHM & BREWS||CHATTANOOGA, TN|
|Tue 01.19.2010||VALARIUM||KNOXVILLE, TN|
|Wed 01.20.2010||ORANGE PEEL||ASHEVILLE, NC|
|Thu 01.21.2010||JEFFERSON THEATRE||CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA|
|Fri 01.22.2010||123 PLEASANT STREET||MORGANTOWN, WV|
|Fri 02.05.2010||Skully’s||Columbus, OH|
|Sat 02.06.2010||SOUTHGATE HOUSE||NEWPORT, KY|
|Sun 02.07.2010||HEADLINERS MUSIC HALL||LOUISVILLE, KY|
|Mon 02.08.2010||EXIT IN||NASHVILLE, TN|
|Tue 02.09.2010||HI-TONE CAFE||MEMPHIS, TN|
|Wed 02.10.2010||THE LYRIC OXFORD||OXFORD, MS|
|Thu 02.11.2010||TIPITINAS||NEW ORLEANS, LA|
|Fri 02.12.2010||SPANISH MOON||BATON ROUGE, LA|
|Sat 02.13.2010||EMOS||AUSTIN, TX|
|Sun 02.14.2010||HAILEY’S||DENTON, TX|
|Mon 02.15.2010||CAINS BALLROOM||TULSA, OK|
|Wed 02.17.2010||THE RECORD BAR||KANSAS CITY, MO|
|Thu 02.18.2010||THE BLUE NOTE||COLUMBIA, MO|
|Fri 02.19.2010||HARRIS CENTER||GRINNELL, IA|
|Sat 02.20.2010||CANOPY CLUB||URBANA, IL|
|Fri 03.05.2010||1ST UNITARIAN CHURCH||PHILLY, PA|
|Sat 03.06.2010||MUSIC HALL OF WILLIAMSBURG||BROOKLYN, NY|
|Sun 03.07.2010||HIGHLINE BALLROOM||NY, NY|
|Mon 03.08.2010||PARADISE||BOSTON, MA|
|Tue 03.09.2010||JERKY’S MUSIC HALL||PROVIDENCE, RI|
|Wed 03.10.2010||LA TULIPE||MONTREAL, QC|
|Thu 03.11.2010||THE MOD CLUB||TORONTO, ON|
|Fri 03.12.2010||MAGIC STICK||DETROIT, MI|
|Sat 03.13.2010||METRO||CHICAGO, IL|
|Mon 03.15.2010||TRIPLE ROCK||MINNEAPOLIS, MN|
|Tue 03.16.2010||MAJESTIC THEATRE||MADISON, WI|
|Thu 03.18.2010||GROG SHOP||CLEVELAND, OH|
|Fri 03.19.2010||MR. SMALLS||MILLVALE, PA|
|Fri 04.02.2010||BLUEBIRD THEATER||DENVER, CO|
|Sat 04.03.2010||STRATER THEATER||DURANGO, CO|
|Sun 04.04.2010||RHYTHM ROOM||PHOENIX, AZ|
|Mon 04.05.2010||CASBAH||SAN DIEGO, CA|
|Tue 04.06.2010||EL REY THEATRE||LA, CA|
|Wed 04.07.2010||THE INDEPENDENT||SF, CA|
|Thu 04.08.2010||RED FOX TAVERN||EUREKA, CA|
|Fri 04.09.2010||DANTES||PORTLAND, OR|
|Sat 04.10.2010||NIGHTLIGHT LOUNGE||BELLINGHAM, WA|
|Sun 04.11.2010||NEUMOS||SEATTLE, WA|