Before he hit the big (or at least moderately sized) time as a solo artist with the release of his official debut, Dead Ringer, on El-P's Definitive Jux label, RJD2 put together the extremely limited-edition Your Face or Your Kneecaps more or less as a promotional item. Irregardless of its semi-legitimate status, the album managed to get the producer noticed by Rolling Stone magazine, and it is definitely worth tracking down. It is conspicuous as the rawer blueprint for what Dead Ringer would eventually succeed fully at becoming: self-contained instrumental hip-hop of the highest order. Your Face or Your Kneecaps is of a much rougher finish -- it is a self-described "mix CD," after all, and lacks the glossy veneer of a studio product -- but it also has spontaneity and a ragged bedroom soul in spades. The album's main course is "Poorboy Lover Megamix," a virtuoso display of the art of the sampler. The song's 37 snippets (the majority of them cherry-picked out of the 1960s and '70s) mostly run no longer than 30 or 40 seconds apiece, but the whole 39-minute collage comes together like the greatest obscure, free-form funk 'n' jive live jam you've never heard. Both "Rain" and "Find You Out" have the same sort of effect, but on a much smaller scale. While they feel much more rooted in the earth, they are just as haunting as the mystical landscapes of DJ Shadow. And they help make the album more than simply a warm-up from a extraordinary artist.
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AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart