HHS: First, tell us about your name, RJD2, sounds like it should be reserved for R2D2′s offspring…. Are you a Star Wars fan?
RJD2: yeah, I’m a fan, but the name really came from this cat Gomer, who was my first partner in rhyme. My real name is RJ, and he would fuck around in freestyles and call me rjd2. I never really loved it, but you know, it came time to pick a name, and it was the only thing there. Basically my laziness has given me a name I hate.
HHS: Speaking of movies, “The Horror” sounds like it could be the theme music for any potential secret agent in waiting; would you ever consider scoring for motion pictures in the future?
RJD2: If it was dope, but I’ve been compared to Moby enough in the last two weeks. I would do a score for some shit that was hot and Indy, like Donnie Darko or an ill Jim Jarmusch flick.
HHS: You are the only instrumentalist signed to El-Ps Def Jux label, how did that deal come to fruition?
RJD2: We went to Long Island in 2000 to go swimming. El lost his luggage on the train, and basically I have photos of El in a Speedo he bought there, and he is aware of what is good and bad for his career.
HHS: Do you approach constructing an instrumental track differently then you would a track you are producing for someone to rhyme over?
RJD2: Construction is definitely different, for obvious reasons. Sometimes what I choose as the root of an instrumental song will be so different from something I’d use for a rapper, but every now and then, I’d pick something that was kind of blatantly rap oriented to start an inst. joint with. Part of my motivation with this record was to make some joints that would hopefully open people’s minds to instrumental shit that are just hardcore rap fans, and don’t buy shit without a rapper on it. “June’s” arrangement was actually done with a rapper in mind, and I don’t think anyone but Copywrite could have pulled it off. He knew exactly where his verses should go-I didn’t have to say anything.
HHS: Were any of the beats you used on this LP submitted to emcees, or were they crafted especially for Dead Ringer?
RJD2: No, this album was a chance for me to do exactly what I wanted, hence the interlude guy talking about his first album without having to listen to anybody else.
HHS: How many records do you have in your library?
RJD2: I’m not sure? I don’t really fancy myself a collector. I like to buy records, but it’s only for either sample material or to listen to. I’m not one of these “work off a list” type of cats. I have about 7 bookshelves of records, however that many is? If I can’t use a record, I get rid of it immediately.
HHS: From the production aspect, what steps do you take first in assembling a track? Do you concentrate on the drum loop first, or do you hear a sample that grabs your ear and create things around it?
RJD2: My shit never starts with drums. To me, the pattern and swing of the drums should be molded to the music. I usually start with a vocal sample, or an idea for a chord progression, or the mood of a certain instrument. Drums can be programmed any way you like, if you know what you’re doing.
HHS: While you have your own unique sound, Dead Ringer is going to be compared to Shadow’s Entroducing and you can hear faint images of Shadow on “Smoke And Mirrors” and “Chicken Bone Circuit.” Was Shadow and Entroducing an influence on your production style?
RJD2: Yeah, unfortunately. There are really only a few instrumental hip-hop producers that I actually like, and Shadow’s shit was such a big deal when it came out. I’m doing everything I can to get away from anything that will bring this comparison up. My next record is gonna sound like blue cheer-straight up.
HHS: How do you react to hearing so many critics give Dead Ringer such a ringing endorsement? When the LP was completed, did you have any idea Dead Ringer would be so widely praised?
RJD2: If people are saying that, then that’s great. I’m not really out to be some icon; I just was trying to make the best record I could. I sat down, and thought about what a good RECORD is made up of, not a good hip-hop record, or a good sample-based record, and did my best using the sampler.
HHS: How long was the recording process for this LP from start to finish?
RJD2: About 15 months, it was a royal pain in the ass.
HHS: Most of the work you have done up to this point has been for the immediate members of Def Jux, your MHz crew, Copywrite and the upcoming Cage LP. Do you plan on working with other artists in the future? Also, if you could produce for one emcee, who would it be and why?
RJD2: Maybe, but I’m not really searching for some high profile collabo for the sake of record sales. I would do a joint with Ludacris, cause he really pays attention to the structure of his songs, and I think we could do some hot shit.
HHS: Ohio has never been known as a hip-hop Mecca, but the Buckeye state is really churning out some good talent, yourself, Illogic, Blueprint, (we’ll leave out Lil Bow Wow) lately. Can you explain the sudden surge of Ohio artists that are beginning to make a name for themselves?
RJD2: Ummm, my theory is that Ohio has been stuck behind the times, and that has actually been a good thing. In Columbus, respect only comes when earned. It doesn’t seem to be the same in most other cities, but who knows? People in the Columbus hip-hop scene have had to fight hard for respect in their own backyards, so maybe it carries over in the world of making records and labels?
HHS: You and Blueprint give us a good taste of what’s to come from you two with “Final Frontier”, how is the Soul Position EP shaping up? Did you split production duties for the EP?
RJD2: No, I did all the beats, he does the rhymes. He can knock out some bangers as well though. The LP is done, just trying to get a solid release date and all. The EP should be out by the time this interview goes up.
HHS: I was amazed by “Work” and “Here’s What’s Left”, can you breakdown how these tracks were assembled, and what’s the secret to taking an older piece of music and making it sound brand new?
RJD2: Thanks much. Basically, when I find an acapella, I just sort of listen to it over and over. I try to get an idea of what mood it wants to be arranged in, and then i just start trying things. It’s all about the process of trial and error-for every one sound I used on the record; I probably tried 4 or 5 sounds that didn’t work.
HHS: Your mixtape endeavor, Your Face Or Your Kneecaps, was an appetizer. But the verdict on Dead Ringer is unanimous—shit is dope! Do you feel Dead Ringer solidifies your spot as one of hip-hop’s top upcoming beatsmiths?
RJD2: As far as upcoming anything, I don’t sit around and think about shit like that. Those patterns of thought are very bad for artists and people in the public eye. I have no interest in achieving anything other than making records I am happy with. But thanks for the props on the record.
HHS: What does the future hold for RJD2?
RJD2: More video games, more touring, more records, more lawsuits, and I intend to hone my pimp game this year. Thanks.
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