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Friday, July 23, 2010

RJD2 - The Colossus: A-

Most of those who have problems with RJD2's most recent material don't like Ramble Jon Krohn's increased vocal role in the songs he creates, arguing that his range isn't flexible enough to be employed for all of the genres he likes to experiment with. With the Colossus, I would not tend to agree with this assessment; Krohn's reedy tone is nothing if not adequate to fit the material on here. However, I will say that the best moments on The Colossus are when nobody sings. The jazzy pulp of "Let There Be Horns" is absolute fun, and more hip hop-oriented instrumentals like "Small Plans" and "Tin Flower" are clear highlights on an album full of them. It is here where Krohn's songwriting ability truly shines, unafraid to indulge in a creepy choir-led interlude in "The Stranger" or break out a harpsichord solo in "Giant Squid".

The songs with vocals are also excellent, but clearly show Krohn playing within definite parameters. The Phonte Coleman-helmed "The Shining Path" is a great slice of soul with its plunking piano keys and relaxed percussion and "Games You Can Win" features a good vocal performance from an artist I thought had dropped off the face of the Earth (Kenna in case you were wondering). The only weak track present is "A Son's Cycle", which features rappers The Catalyst, Illogic and NP performing over three revolving beats, and, although it is an interesting premise, it does not translate into a song that flows particularly well.

Many RJD2 fans fault Krohn for branching off into other genres (mainly soul and R&B) as opposed to making the more traditional hop hop featured on his earlier albums, but I honestly wouldn't mind if Krohn kept coming out with albums like The Colossus for a while. Sure, innovation is key to any artist, but, with The Colossus, RjD2 shows that he continues to be a versatile force to be reckoned with.


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