Big things a gwan with beat auteur and Mad Men theme-composer RJD2 these days. Feeling bad, maybe, that he left us for a minute without a tuff beat to step to in the aftermath of his Aaron Livingston collabo Icebird, the illadroid has announced a new solo LP titled More Is Than Isn’t–and then immediately dropped the first single on us. It’s called “Her Majesty’s Socialist Request” (take that, Royal Baby) and sounds like a hip-hop DJ cutting up the guitar blasts of a heavy rock record while the neo-orientalist bellydancer dance sequence of a Bollywood movie is unfolding behind him. Amped off the combination of adrenalin-charged beats and good news (though it’s billed primarily as an instrumental album, the tracklisting for MITI includes cameos from Livingston, Phonte and Khari Mateen, just to name a few) we had to hit RJ up to ask, essentially, YO. What’s the deal? In response we got some tantalizing tidbits on both the new record and what milestones are left for a producer after writing the Mad Men theme music (yes, in case you came late, that spooky drum song on the Mad Men opening credits is D2’s track “A Beautiful Mine”). Read below, scroll down to stream “Her Majesty’s Socialist Request” and then blow out your own mind-dust trying to imagine the TV serial that AMC is gonna have to create to use this one on the credits.
Okayplayer: You’ve said this new album is the first that’s not trying to be ‘more than instrumental music’. That said, you have a lot of great vocalists listed on here –how did you decide which you were going to include?
RJD2: I have a fairly small roster of folks I pitched stuff to on this record. Most of them were people I had worked with before; they all were good enough in their respective field that I was confident that the resulting song would be solid enough to put on a record. By and large, it worked out as expected. There were a few new cats that I hadn’t worked with [and those] the tunes panned out well, which was great; I feel like I came out of making this record with some new alliances, musically speaking.
OKP: How has your life changed (or not) since “A Beautiful Mine” became the opening theme music for Mad Men? Did you approve the way they chopped the beat? Do you now know what it feels like to be Henry Mancini or that dude who wrote the Hawaii 5-0 theme?
RJD2: It hasn’t changed too drastically, I’d say. I picked up some accolades along the way, but I’m not driving a Ferrari on Don Draper’s dime, if that answers your question. I definitely don’t know what it feels like to be Henry Mancini, because that dude was a genius and I’m still a hack. I don’t remember if I approved the edit or not, honestly, cause it was so long ago, but I do know that the very last chord of the edit–which is taken from later in the song–is just a few cents flat and makes the intro end on a sort of ominous note. For the longest time I’d watch the show and think “they sure tacked on a weird ass chord right there”–and then realized that, No. That was MY weird ass chord.