Soul Position

Things Go Better with RJ and Al

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    8
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It is unsurprising that producer RJD2 and MC Blueprint have found success as Soul Position. Both are talented in their own right, and their work together draws on and complements each individual's strengths. Their second full-length record, Things Go Better with RJ and Al, has a sound that will definitely be familiar to fans of the group's first release, 8 Million Stories. RJD2's diverse sonic selection is kept simple and clean so as to not overpower Blueprint's vocals and there's an emphasis on funky basslines accented with horns, along with, like a lot of underground rap from the past few years (9th Wonder, Madlib), sped-up '70s soul samples that turn into eight-bar grooves. But RJD2 is talented enough that he doesn't end up repeating himself too frequently, and his willingness to explore different genres on which to base the sound of each song creates a lot of interesting and diverse beats. Blueprint is in good form on the record, providing the mix of humor and social commentary (often within the same song) found in his other work. While never making it into revolutionary territory, the MC attempts to reach farther than basic hip-hop subjects (lyrical skills, women, etc.), addressing alcohol abuse and incest in "Drugs, Sex, Alcohol, Rock-n-Roll" and the benefits of teenage abstinence in "The Cool Thing to Do." In "I'm Free," he explores the incongruity between capitalism and the societally believed definition of freedom over a rock-inspired groove. It is probably the most ambitiously critical song in his repertoire, and is very good, though the extreme repetition and vocal emphasis of the word "free," trying to highlight its ironic nature, get a little tiresome. One of Blueprint's qualities is that he has never taken himself too seriously, and doesn't continue to do so here. He is careful to include lighter tracks amidst the more profound ones, like "Blame It on the Jager," about his lack of judgment when he's intoxicated, or "I Need My Minutes," a satirical poke at popular cell phone culture. Soul Position don't deviate much from their combination of original rhymes and interesting, thoughtful music, but there's really no need to when it sounds so good.

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