RJD2 played to a sold-out crowd in Chicago’s Lincoln Hall this past Wednesday, April 18th. As the second in their two-night LH stint, outside crowds were large and scattered with whispers, “got an extra ticket?” Inside, opening Chicago band whysowhite had quite the attention, which soon proved more than worthy for the funky hip-hop they were beltin’ and spittin’. Seven members and plenty points for passion, this group visibly loosened the crowd with each song—their cover of “All That”’s theme song is worth watching on YouTube.
RJD2’s entrance included the famous welding-mask and voice modifier-think Darth Vader with a hint of sass, robo-instructing his anxious-eared listeners to dance. “I must warn you, shit’s about to go down. In fact I must get all up in that mask tonight, all like. You people are smart as shit in Chicago, bring forth all wondrous music, like.”
RJ, a producer of music since 1993, is loved for his perfect mixture of jazz, soul, hip-hop, jamming and the maintenance of electronic rhythm-while-flow—a feature not necessarily present in much music of the trip-hop/experimental variety.
His extensive discography varies from involving only some of these elements to combining all of them, however his more recent music tends to favor the instrumental over the rap collaborations.
RJD2’s visual art began by sampling the macro/micro scale of the universe video we all know from high school. It was edited to zoom in and out as if the edit was screaming along with the bass “CAN YOU BELIEVE HOW SMALL WE ARE.” For the rest of the show, it switched between close-ups of him working his equipment and visual art featuring Evil Dead II film clips and other cultish gore scenes. This facilitated a soundtrack lens for the audience, which seemed to create a mildly disappointing trade-off: give the crowd some bad-ass visuals to stare at and they’re going to dance a whole lot less. This was the case for some but certainly not all.
RJD2’s crowd danced to tracks off Dead Ringer: “Ghostwriter,” “Smoke and Mirrors” and “Good Times Roll Pt. 2” were definite dancing highs, while “The Horror” opened up the set with a distinctly eerie tone that he’s also sometimes known for. “Shining Path” off the 2010 album The Colossus was a surprisingly beautiful sing-a-long break from the show’s surplus of heavier beats. The show seemed short with around 90 minutes of playtime, but the set was solid and the crowd was pleased. Hopefully he’ll bring some Bus Stop Bitties along next time he’s in Chicago. It’d be colossal.