RJD2's The Third Hand is the kind of alternative hip-hop record that raises the question: When does a particular artist stop being alternative anything and start to step outside the confines of a single genre? What's even more impressive is that RJD2 did it all himself the producing, the singing (not his strong suit), the sampling, the analog synth, the piano. Is it hip-hop? There's certainly nothing especially hip-hop about the Merchant Ivory-flavored incidental music that opens the album. And it's followed by a taste of psychedelic popcraft that could pass for something Money Mark might have done on an artier day. There's a break in "Have Mercy" that sounds like a really stoned version of Kool & The Gang's "Celebration" as performed by Talking Heads, and "Someday" is unadorned Beatlesesque balladry, while other tracks veer closer to the gospel-flavored school of soul you'd get with Cee-Lo. Hip-hop's still on RJD2's speed dial. He just doesn't call as often. And even a stone-cold purist would feel like an asshole denying the hip-hop nature of the more inspired beats here.
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