Artist: RJD2 & STS
Album: STS X RJD2
Label: RJ’s Electrical Connections
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Since the release of his critically acclaimed debut album, Deadringer, RJD2 has collaborated with an array of different artists and subsequently taken his listeners on a journey through numerous styles and genres of music. RJD2 may be best known for his hip-hop production, releasing two albums with Blueprint under the name Soul Position, 8 Million Stories and Things Go Better with RJ and AL, and Magnificent City with one of the West Coast’s greatest and most underappreciated underground emcee’s Aceyalone. However, RJ has also released pop/rock albums like The Third Hand which featured him singing and playing live instruments on nearly every track, as well as the album The Abandoned Lullaby with Aaron Livingston, a vocalist and guitarist from the band The Mean, under the name Icebird.
On this album titled STS X RJD2, RJD2 teams up with Atlanta native Sugar Tongue Slim, better known as STS. STS moved to Philadelphia from Atlanta in 2000 and has ingrained himself in the Philly music scene ever since. STS has run the musical gamut from participating in poetry slams to ripping hip-hop open mics and battles and even helping to write Ciara’s smash hit “Oh” in 2005. He has also released a number of great mixtapes such as The Illustrious, GOLD Rush, GOLD Rush 2, and GOLD Rush 3. Keeping true to his Atlanta roots, STS combines that textbook southern style and swag with a lightning quick delivery and East Coast attitude, which almost instantaneously gives him a universal appeal across the entire country. The album, which features a somewhat updated approach to RJD2’s vintage production and STS’s recognizable and original style, is a perfect example of what happens when two phenomenal performers come together for one cause.
The album opens up with the track “Doin It Right,” and that’s exactly what RDJ2 and STS continue to do throughout the entire album. “Doin it Right” starts off with a sample of someone whistling, followed by a guitar, keys and horns, and once the beat fully drops you can almost feel the soul oozing out of the speakers. STS blesses the track keeping perfectly in-tune with RJ’s production dropping lines like, “I came to kick it/ you know Phife dawg and Tip and Ali/ Shaheed, Jerobi my flow be the golden ticket/ so you enjoy the show and I’ll be back to visit/ but now I got to spit like a spicket get back to business” with on-point delivery and breath control. This is followed up by a track called “Trunk of My Computer,” which is an homage to the days when artists used to sell albums out of the trunk of their car. However, nowadays with readily accessible technology, artists are focused on “trying to sell a milli out the trunk of my computer.”
The entire album is full of fresh tracks but some of my favorites are the soulful lead single “Hold On, Here It Go,” “Trunk of My Computer,” “All I Wanted Was a Caddy,” which takes southern Cadillac music and fuses it with East Coast lyricism and wit over RJ’s haunting production, “Dice Game,” and “F*ck With That.” On “F*ck With That,” STS starts his verse with “Spanning the track/ the lyrics is phat/ I rip it the f*ck down/ I’m more than a fluke, I’m wriggity wrecking the joint so what now/ When so many n*ggas are biting the style I flipped O, G/ Now check out the S that n*gga be fresh be dressing to the T.” However what’s more impressive than STS’s lyrics are his phenomenal rhyme structure and flow pattern.
STS X RJD2 is a refreshingly original piece of hip-hop music that embodies all the best aspects of production, lyricism and overall great vibes. It is rare to find an album where two people seemingly link up out of the blue and work so well together. STS and RJ are on the same page from start to finish and the final product is something that can be listened to over and over again, all of the way through. In general, RJ loyalists will notice that the production is more polished than some of his earlier work with the likes of Blueprint and MHz, which likely stems from the use of live instrumentation rather than chopped-up samples, and depending on what camp you are in, that’s either a pro or a con. Although it appears that RJ has strayed away from pure hip-hop collaborations and his audience for such albums may have shifted gears with his own musical tastes, there is certainly something on here for everyone, whether it’s the upbeat “Hold On, Here It Go,” the charmingly laidback “420,” or the funk-fueled “Crusin.” With RJD2 delivering some of his most original production to date and STS’s immaculate delivery, the album sounds like it came from the glory days of hip-hop and can only be categorized as some John Blaze sh*t.