RJD2’s music is a collage of cut-and-paste hip-hop that combines disparate elements to make for soulful, moody portraits of the world. Born Ramble John Krohn in Eugene, Oregon, on May 27, 1976, he moved to Columbus, Ohio a few years later and was raised there. He first busted out onto the hip-hop scene in 1998 — a time when producers were emerging from the shadows to seize the spotlight — as the DJ/producer for the Columbus-based group Megahertz. MHz had two 12″ singles released on Bobbito Garcia’s Fondle ‘Em Records and the group was mentioned in Vibe magazine’s “History of Hip Hop.”
In 2000, RJD2 produced Copywrite’s debut single, “Holier Than Thou,” on Rawkus Records. In the spring of 2001, he made his first formal appearance as a solo artist on the Def Jux Presents… compilation, proving he could hold his own alongside such luminaries as Company Flow, El-P, Cannibal Ox, and Aesop Rock. RJD2’s debut album, Dead Ringer, followed on Def Jux in 2002. One of the best underground hip-hop releases of the year, it melded dirty samples and a classic approach to song structure for an end result that gave DJ Shadow, DJ Spooky, and Moby a run for their money. Aside from his top-billed recordings, he also provided productions for Cage’s Hell’s Winter and Aceyalone’s Magnificent City (the latter also spawned an instrumentals album, Magnificent City Instrumentals).
RJD2 returned in 2004 with Since We Last Spoke, which blended hip-hop with elements of pop. He then moved to XL to fully indulge his passion for pop, releasing The Third Hand in early 2007. In early 2010, he dropped The Colossus. It was the first album to be released on his own label, RJ’s Electrical Connections. Months later, he released Inversions of the Colossus, containing instrumental versions of The Colossus’ vocal tracks and several additional cuts. The album More Is Than Isn’t arrived in 2013 and featured appearances from Phonte Coleman, Aaron Livingston, and Blueprint. The R&B and soul flavors found on the LP returned on 2015’s STS x RJD2, a collaborative effort recorded with rapper STS. Phonte Coleman, Blueprint, Son Little, and Jordan Brown all appeared on his 2016 solo effort, Dame Fortune.