Album Review: RJD2, ‘Dame Fortune’

By Angelo Gingerelli


When electronic musician RJD2 debuted on El-P’s Definitive Jux records with 2002’s Deadringer it was clear he was an artist ahead of his time on a label that was also ahead of its’ time. The proof that the project was released a solid decade too early is the current superstar status of DJ’s, this decade’s widespread acceptance of electronic music, the wild success of El-P’s Run The Jewels projects and labels like Fool’s Gold finding massive success by blending Hip-Hop and Electronic Music similar to the projects RJD2 did with underground MC’s in the early 2000’s.

Dame Fortune comes at an ideal time for RJD2 to finally crossover into the mainstream and become one of the major players in today’s climate of EDM superstars like Calvin Harris, David Guetta and Afrojack. The main difference between RJD2 and his pop-friendly peers is their willingness to pander to a wider audience by featuring pop/R&B vocals, sampling easily recognizable songs and verses from well-known rappers. This is an electronic music album for people that like electronic music, there are no easily digestible dance tracks that will appeal to the casual fan who mainly listens to other genres and only dabbles in electronic music, this commitment to the genre is both a positive and a negative depending on the listener’s attitude and preferences.

The album features multiple ethereal, futuristic, spacey sounding tracks that would sound at home on the soundtrack to Kubricks’ 2001: A Space Odyssey or at Star War’s Mos Eisley Cantina’s after hours party. Songs like “The Roaming Hoard,” “The Sheboygan Left” and “Pf, Day One” are all compelling from an electronic music perspective and RJD2’s ability to stretch the limits of the current confines of the genre will sound new and refreshing to longtime fans of this kind of music.

Only a few of the tracks feature vocals and most are from talented performers that may be unfamiliar to casual fans of dance or Hip-Hop. The two highlights of the vocal tracks are clearly “Saboteur” featuring rapper/singer Phonte Coleman (formerly of rap group Little Brother and current member or R&B duo Foreign Exchange) in full R&B singer mode and “Up in the Clouds” featuring a memorable verse from Blueprint about recovery from a car accident. These tracks will probably appeal to a wider audience than most of the instrumental cuts on the project. NOTE: RJD2, Phonte Coleman and Blueprint have all been featured on The Cipher podcast (all podcast outlets), these episodes are great places for new fans to become acquainted with artists that are rarely interviewed.

With Dame Fortune RJD2 sets the bar pretty high for electronic music and has released a project that should be well received by fans of the genre, but most of it will fail to find an audience outside of that demographic.

Best Songs: “The Roaming Hoard” “Saboteur” and “Up in the Clouds”

Perfect For: The ride to see a sci-fi movie.

Rating 7.5 out of 10