The Way We Get By: RJD2 is Enjoying ‘80s Sci-Fi Movies

Especially those starring a former governator of California.

Most of us are sequestered in our homes, doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. That includes some of our favorite artists, so we’re asking them to tell us about one thing — a book, a movie, a record, whatever — that’s helping them get through this difficult time.

There’s a set of movies — Robocop, Die Hard, Predator, Total Recall, all of the Alien franchise — that feel like comfort food to me. I think I experienced them at a point in my life that they were pretty formative. I was probably 9 to about 14 when most of those came out, and they’re just seared right into my psyche.

They’re predictable but at the same time there’s new stuff to pull out. I watched Robocop a few months ago — the first three actually — and I was shocked at how amazingly well the first one holds up. Sometimes records or movies don’t age well for your experience, but there are more layers to that movie than I knew about when I first saw it.

With Schwarzenegger’s run from that era, I really think they’re incredibly good films. The first Predator is a bona fide classic. For its genre it’s easily top 10 if not top 5 for me. I perceived them as being only marginally more sophisticated than Rambo, which was just a touch too lowbrow for me, personally. I didn’t realize until later that Schwarzenegger must really have had an eye toward science fiction at that time. When I was a kid, Schwarzenegger was a muscle dude! A jock that was in movies where you’re blowing up aliens — not the most sophisticated thing. But that run of films, I don’t know, in a weird way… I’d like to see an interview that dug into his literary interests as a young man. I have to think that he chose these movies for a reason. It seems more than coincidental to me. I’m not arguing that he’s De Niro or anything like that. But for the roles that he plays in those films, he does a good job, and they’re fun to watch! 

The coronavirus has hit many people financially, and it’s been especially tough on musicians who rely on touring to support themselves. If you’re able and inclined, check out RJD2’s Bandcamp and order a T-shirt, some vinyl, or whatever they’ve got on offer. His latest album, The Fun Ones, is out April 17 on RJ’s Electrical Connections.

His first album since 2016’s Dame Fortune, The Fun Ones is the seventh solo album in the constantly expanding RJD2 catalog. Assembled as a mixtape using samples taken from a number of conversations with his contemporaries, including Phonte Coleman, J-Zone, Kid Koala, Mr. Lif, and Son Little, The Fun Ones draws largely from the basic DNA of hip-hop and funk music, with heavy brass, plenty of thump, and slick chord changes.