PREMIERE: RJD2 “The Sheboygan Left” Video

Many producers expand their catalog by dabbling in as many genres as possible, but very few can do so successfully in innovative ways. One artist who weaves in and out of hip hop while curating his own brand of funk and rock is Ohio’s golden boy RJD2. The producer who once called El-P’s Definitive Jux home now runs his own label, RJ’s Electrical Connections, which is the avenue he took to release Dame Fortune. His sixth album is arguably his most thorough one as his move to Philadelphia to craft it contextualized his love of funk in a city that had so much soul–The Delfonics, Phyllis Hyman, Patti LaBelle, The Stylistics.

Today, he releases the video for track four off of Dame Fortune. The song makes you feel like a little kid again, playing in the sun in your backyard. It cycles between moments of high energy and calmer lulls, as do kids who have bursts of activity then moments to catch their breath. Likewise directors Keenan Parry and Ason Intrigue (aka The Wizard and The Bear) attempted to do the same by heading underground to one of the most hated on subway systems, the MTA, in NYC with dancers Anna Zekan and Adam Dickerson. They shot both early mornings and in the evenings to capture both ends of the spectrum of energy from the commuting strangers. You can’t help but smile when some of the passerby’s end up dancing along with Anna and Adam. When we asked about “The Sheboygan Left,” which is embodied by the flying blob of colorful energy, the directors explained that:

It’s supposed to be good for sure. Like everything is a bit dreary and monotone without it and it causes the dancers to light up and dance around–making their commute enjoyable. When it disappears, in our minds, we’re showing that the dancers just keep dancing even though they may look silly. They’re just feeling the song and being happy and they don’t need to chase it anymore. One cool thing to note is the fact that almost everyone is listening to music on the subway, some people even sing aloud, but most are quiet. In some way, music is helping them get through the commute; so you could look at Sheboygan being that force in the video.

RJD2 also made some time to answer a few questions about the track itself. Peep the Q&A below.

Photo credit: Nick Fancher
Photo credit: Nick Fancher

Mass Appeal: Where does the title of the track come from?

RJD2: The title of the song comes from a combination of several reference points for Sheboygan (a city in Wisconsin). By the time I named the song, I realized that I think it’s [a] more intriguing title if the listener doesn’t know what my reference points were.

How much say did you have in the creative process for the video?

I really let the directors run loose with the concept, for the most part. I try to stay out of the hair of directors as a general rule.

How does this song fit into the larger project of Dame Fortune?

This song fit into the album for me as a song that’s instrumental, but still has some slight vocal parts here, some bombast, some funk; it felt like it was grounding some of the tunes that went to some extremes, if that makes sense, so it stayed.

Dame Fortune is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.

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