On stage, Ramble John Krohn (a.k.a. RJD2) has an ability to entrance his audience into a sea of synchronized hand-waves and head-bopping. The vinyl-scratching, mass-Tweeting, Ohio-raised DJ started spinning in 1993, when he decided to buy a pair of turntables from a friend. He's since produced 20 albums, 28 singles, and dozens of other collaborations, mix tapes, and remixed tracks.
We recently caught up with Krohn, who abides by the music-making philosophy of not giving "a s*** as long as it sounds hot." He fuses explosive elements from hip-hop, brass-band, and metal rock with soul-funk and electronica, churning bad-ass beats that make you want to jump into a 1970s high-speed car chase. He's even sampled sounds from KFC-commercials. His loyal following of hip-hopping/skateboarding/hoop-shooting/plaid-wearing crowds love him anyway, as do commercial heavyweights like the NBA, Levi's, Adidas, and the TV series CSI-NY, all of which have featured his songs. A preview of his latest EP, "The Glow" remixes, is available here.
Mother Jones: What’s your favorite recent release in your genre?
Ramble John Krohn: This is a bit slippery, as I'm not sure what genre I belong in, but I guess I'd say Big Boi's album [Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty] at the moment. It's somewhere between a weirdo funk record, a hip-hop record, and an electro record. I absolutely love it.
MJ: How about a release outside your genre.
JK: Maxwell's last album. [BLACKsummers'night]
MJ: Shuffle your iPod (or equivalent) and name the first five songs that pop up.
JK: Per my acupuncturists’ request, I’m soaking my knee right now, so I can’t get up. Sorry!
MJ: What's the latest song, good or bad, that super-glued itself in your brain?
JK: I couldn't get DJ Assault's "Ass-N-Titties" out of my head for half of today.
MJ: Three records you never get sick of listening to?
JK: 1. Donny Hathaway, Extension of a Man
2. Bob James, One
3. Led Zeppelin, 3.
MJ: Any guilty pleasures—something you like to listen to but don’t like to admit it.
JK: Don't believe in such things. Why would anyone feel guilty about listening to music they like? Cause it's "frowned upon" by the people we have deemed our cultural elites? With all due respect, that's something I just think is foolish. Half my record collection would probably be deemed "embarrassing" by whomever is considered culturally important right now.
MJ: Has having your own label, RJ's Electrical Connections, changed the way you create and release your own music?
JK: Yes, in a way. It's allowed me to bypass the cosigning element of a record label. I can do whatever I want to over the course of an album now. Which I have always done, but now I don’t need to get the label's thumbs up to do it.
MJ: What's the music scene like in Philadelphia, and where do you fit in?
JK: I don't know. Honestly, I think most people here consider me a transplant, as I started my career in Columbus, Ohio. But there is definitely a lot of music going on here.
Watch RJD2 do his thing below...
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