R.J. Krohn's modest personality illuminates his obsession with underground hiphop culture, as well as the technology behind it. With this fascination in his back pocket, Krohn—as RJD2—made a fast name for himself as DJ/producer for notable emcees like Megahertz, Camu Tao, Jakki, and Copywrite before even contemplating a solo endeavor.
In 2002, he released his first solo project, Dead Ringer, on Definitive Jux—the mighty former vanguard label of instrumental and hiphop mixing—and was lickety-split hallowed by fans and brethren alike as the best new thing since DJ Shadow.
Perhaps due to typical sophomore pressures, 2004's Since We Last Spoke deserted RJ's gritty hiphop samples for general genre whoredom. The samples know virtually no boundaries—mixing elements of pure rock, downtempo, and indierock on the same album, but with success on only about half of the tracks. Pretty goddamn ballsy—and sadly, pretty uneven.
The failures of Since We Last Spoke should hardly be indicative of the live show however, as RJ has long been renowned for producing sets that resemble only fragments of his recordings. In true turntablism, the whole experience of the album often becomes irrelevant in the live setting—and especially in the case of RJD2. Some unique live treats have included, but aren't limited to: the liberal employment of his own crappy vocals, fake beards, and even occasional acoustic renditions of the artists that he samples. Besides his little stunts, RJ impresses with his hands: four-turntable reconstructions of his own albums with completely new material, plus live beat making. In plainer terms, it's something akin to the same level of multi-tasking those jovial guys at Saturday Market employ to jam the bass drum, harmonica, guitar, glockenspiel, and tie a balloon into the shape of a dog all at the same time.
Though impressive in its technical acumen, the real beauty in RJD2's style is just how delicately assembled and seamlessly simplistic it feels—almost as if the samples were parts of some organic construction. RJD2's pure scratch gymnastics will undoubtedly muster instant respect from listeners willing to have their minds blown.