Why is RJD2’s Magnificent City Instrumentals on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
To not dig this one would be mad, man.
What does RJD2’s Magnificent City Instrumentals mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
One obsession that I don’t think I’ve touched on much in these here explorations (explications? ramble-ations?) of the best 1,000 albums ever is a television series you might have heard of called Mad Men (which I may or may not have written an eBook about its first season back in the day).
I’ll likely get more into the machinations of Don Draper, Betty, Peggy, Roger, and the rest of the gang at Sterling Coo (as my man Paul Kinsey likes to call it) another time. But I bring it up to note that just as Alabama 3’s “Woke Up This Morning” is forever tied to and is a foundational element of The Sopranos legacy, RJD2’s “A Beautiful Mine” does the same for Mad Men.
If you’re more of a casual fan of the show, you might recognize it more immediately as “the song that plays while the animated 1960s guy falls out the window.”
It’s a gorgeous song that stands on its own, and after watching Mad Men… let’s say a lot and getting really used to the first 30 seconds or so, it’s fascinating to see how the opening string section arrangement and hip hop beat evolve from there.
I bought Magnificent City Instrumentals on CD way back when because “A Beautiful Mine” is on it, but then discovered later that its actually an instrumental album version of an entirely different album (called Magnificent City), by hip hop artist Aceyalone, that includes the exact same tracks but with hip hop vocals and such.
Aceyalone is super talented, but for my experience I just got so used to the RJ2D version that Magnificent City Instrumentals is my preferred version. Here’s the Aceyalone version of “A Beautiful Mine,” for example, which sounds to my ears crazy and over crowded with super fast paced rap over the musical backdrop that I’m so used to hearing on its own.
This made me think about some other hip hop instrumental tracks that I’m partial to. I’m a huge fan of Dr. Dre’s “Bang Bang,” off of his 2001 album, for example, but I listen to the instrumental version far more often these days.
Another and perhaps even better example is the music of hip hop artist Necro. Necro is incredibly talented, but I honestly find a lot of his lyrical content off putting at best and disturbing at worst. Therefore, it’s fantastic that there’s Instrumentals, Vol. 1, that includes 18 instrumental tracks with the vocals stripped out.
“Five Boroughs” is an example where you can see a RZA-like cinematic vision in Necro’s producing – though darker and more ominous even without his often chilling rap stylings.
But back to Magnificent City Instrumentals. There’s a huge amount of variety that makes the entire album worth a listen. For example, the upbeat neo-soul meets hip hop of “Disconnected” is super exciting and fun.
And then “All For U” sounds like it could easily be the theme music for a fantastic TV show, perhaps a fun drama about young hustlers, gambling, and gangster stuff going on in Las Vegas or LA. Who knows?
Some stats & info about RJD2 – Magnificent City Instrumentals
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Underground Hip Hop, Rap, Hip Hop, Alternative Rap, Indie Electronic, Electronic Music, Soul
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 3.5 out of 5 stars
- When was Magnificent City Instrumentals released? 2006
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #820 out of 1,000
RJD2’s Magnificent City Instrumentals on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.