Between the two of them, indie-rap supa-producer RJD2 and stalwart emcee Blueprint have unleashed their share of noteworthy sonic material.
RJ established his rep as the rap nerd’s Dr. Dre with the much-acclaimed albums Deadringer and Since We Last Spoke, and has even crafted beats for the NBA. Blueprint recently garnered positive attention for his true-school-tinged solo debut, 1988. The Columbus, Ohio natives united to form Soul Position in 2001 and released the six-song Unlimited EP the following year. Unlimited captured the duo’s aural chemistry and showcased Blueprint’s propensity for lighthearted, punchline-style rhymes. Their first full-length effort, 8 Million Stories, followed a year later, and this time around, Blueprint injected some social consciousness into the mix.
One Be Lo
Sat, May 13
$14 (day of show)
603 Red River, Austin
This year, the guys are back with Things Go Better With RJ and Al, a 13-track testament to their thematic range. Things Go Better kicks off with politics on “No Gimmicks” and “Hand-Me-Downs,” a pair of cuts that bemoans the current state of commercial rap with searing commentary: “No slogans, no 20-inch rims rollin’/no gold fronts, no publicity stunts/no make-believe beef, no shootouts in the streets /this is it, no limits, no gimmicks /no MTV Cribs, no crib at all /no out-of-shape fat boys telling you how to ball.”
For all his expressiveness, some of Blueprint’s observations come off as reactionary and dated. De La Soul addressed these issues with more creativity and, well, soul, with their classic cut “Stakes Is High” back in the 1990s. Also, once the tone of the disc shifts toward silly tracks, such as the self-explanatory “Blame It On The Jager” and cell-phone blues of “I Need My Minutes,” Things Go Better loses a little of its steam and overall effectiveness. RJD2’s compositions are consistently on-point, but Blueprint’s verses don’t always hold up, reminiscent of the now-defunct, one-sided musical partnership of DJ Premier and Jeru the Damaja.