Soul Position – Things Go Better with RJ and AL

4 out of 5

Label: Rhymesayers

Produced by: RJD2

Blueprint – Albert Shepard, the ‘AL’ of the title – is both a consummate producer and wordsmith, producing not only a massive chunk of beats for others, but also a good handful of his own material. Left to his own devices, ‘Print tends to favor a heavy, soulful beat and flow, and his lyrics are often mapped to that.

RJD2 – Ramble Jon Krohn, ‘RJ’ – is a heavyweight producer as well, crossing genres though with a rather “modern” sound to his works, cleaning up old school sounds to precision and bringing in electronic flourishes.

This combo, as Soul Position, works a treat: RJD2 works easily with ‘Print’s soulful bias, but picks up the pace, encouraging Blueprint to rap in a slick, effortlessly catchy fashion, each track given a pretty sick hook. When we stay in some territories familiar to the rapper, it makes for some all-time tracks: boast tracks, social commentary; Things Go Better’s songs in this vein are perfect, and badass as hell.

‘Print can also get a bit schmaltzy with his moralizing, though, and RJD2’s bounciness seems to encourage indulgence of that on occasion – like the beat is so seamless that the rapper doesn’t feel the need to dig too hard for his rhymes – as well as allowing for some embarrassingly goofy tracks like ‘Blame It On the Jager,’ or the quite dated ‘I Need My Minutes.’

These are guilty pleasures, though: the beats are immediate earworms, and whether the lyrics are a bit cheeseball or not, Blueprint sounds damn good slinging them; there’s an overall sense of fun and polish that emanates throughout Things Go Better with RJ and AL, suggesting the title is quite on point.