He's equally upset at the way a flip remark he made about being "rap-free in 2006" has been twisted. "It was very obviously a joke," he says, and as proof, he points out that the two major projects he worked on last year -- Aceyalone's Magnificent City and Soul Position's Things Go Better With RJ and AL -- were both hip-hop-oriented. In his view, the number of people who took the line seriously proves "you can take anything out of context and make it look like almost anything you want."
As for The Third Hand, the album isn't as accomplished or confident as his previous work. The choicest cuts, "Get It" and "The Bad Penny," have the most in common with past recordings. Still, RJD2 deserves credit for taking a leap into the unknown -- not that he thinks he's doing anything especially unusual. "I don't know anybody who's involved in music who doesn't have that innate curiosity," he says. "Every rapper I've ever known is at least curious about how to produce a beat."
In some ways, performing his new material alongside live musicians is even more demanding than writing and recording it. But he embraces the challenge. "I went into this not being afraid of mistakes," he allows. "I feel like those are the kinds of things that let people know you're really having to focus and try. So right now, it's just a huge and intense learning experience, and it's so fun. Having a live band, for me, is a ton of pros at the moment, and I can't really think of any cons."
Unless they involve speaking with the press.
For more of our conversation with RJD2, visit www.westword.com/blogs.