rjd2 originally began his career in Columbus, Ohio, DJing in 1993 with a pair of turntables bought from a friend. He went to high school at Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center and graduated in 1994. He claims his name originates from another friend who referenced him as "rjd2" in his raps, and the name stuck.
Originally working the role of DJ in the Columbus rap group MHz, he later signed to Bobbito Garcia's Fondle 'Em label, releasing the self-proclaimed "mix CD" Your Face Or Your Kneecaps. A year later he signed to El-P's record label Definitive Jux and released his solo debut album Deadringer to much acclaim.