Taking its name from the "inspirational" audiotape autobiography narrated by Eastbound & Down's feckless Kenny Powers, You're Fucking Out, I'm Fucking In may be less confrontational than its title suggests. But the mix tape goes to great lengths to show Rockwell Knuckles' boundless versatility. His prime directive is spewing funny and often dizzying rhymes in his low, almost Stentorian voice that shows the barest hint of Missouri twang, and on a track like "Silly Human," it's easy to marvel at the verbal dexterity, rhythmic precision and old-school soul that merge on the breathless chorus. Knuckles shares a few verses with local rhymesayers Vandalyzm and Tef Poe (not to mention Theresa Payne's crucial contributions), but for the most part this collection shows that he can create a rich, complex world unto himself.
Knuckles uses a range of productions to push his surprisingly agile voice into different contexts. He comes out smooth and smoky on "Play Catch," while the clicky "Every Angle" features his most dancehall-like delivery and a flurry of swooping synthesizer runs. His genre-less approach comes to a glorious climax on the final track, "Natural Born Leader," as arena-rock guitar and organ riffs provide an appropriately grandiose backdrop for the tape's closing mission statement. Many rappers are given to overblown claims and over-the-top production, but as those guitars wail and a choir rises behind him, it's not hard to believe the hype. With an album as varied, challenging, confident and downright fun as You're Fucking Out, Rockwell Knuckles stands tall as St. Louis' most capable and adventurous hip-hop artist.
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