Thurs May 20

Berbati's Pan

10 SW 3rd

"It's not like I didn't make another Dead Ringer just to be an asshole." And he didn't sing to be a dick, neither. RJD2--the Ohio DJ/producer renowned for the graceful, brooding beats and melody from deep crates--is not handcuffed to the forward-thinking-but-formal hiphop that defined his loved first record (Dead Ringer). On Since We Last Spoke, his second album, RJ makes melody pine and blast, taking the tools of hiphop--sampler, MPC, ProTools--to patchwork rock riffs and hooks with a boom-bap underlay, carefully binding samples to sound as though a real live band played them. At 11 songs mostly under the five-minute mark, it's far from Dead Ringer's mountainous and long-building denouement, and more melodic than the straightforward rap projects he produced in the interim (for Aceyalone, tourmate Diverse, and with Blueprint as Soul Position). "At times [with Dead Ringer], I definitely tried to play the formalist game; I wouldn't take that as an insult. I mean, you have to play by the rules to break the rules in any genre," he explains. "I didn't want to be Mister Weirdo Ham Leftfield--I didn't wanna come out like that. Even if I'm doing the weird shit, it's not like I'm trying to fly any freak flag; I'm just trying new shit. I know a lot of people will hear this record and they're not gonna hear the hiphop influence coming through as strong--but I sequenced this entire record on an MPC. Sixty or 70 percent of it is samples."

Including RJ's first stab at singing--he says he did it last-minute, when all the "real" vocalists fell through--at times, Since We Last Spoke feels like a precise pop album (one particularly emotive vocal number could be an outtake from Postal Service or Sascha Funke). Blame it a little on OutKast. "I think Andre can sing 5 million times better than me," effuses RJ, "but in a lot of ways, I think the OutKast record had an effect on me. For one, when he sings on the record--personally, I think he's a phenomenal singer--and they made this record that's so far out there, so bizarre, but they made it work."