I opted to order this cd instead of "Dead Ringer" in part because of the price tag and in part because of the smaller number of tracks with rap in them. I don't regret the decision: this is an excellent cd. It strikes me as a sort of best of / remix version of Dead Ringer, since many of the tracks are either instrumental versions or remixes from the original cd. I don't know how well it holds up against "Dead Ringer" on its own, but I found it extremely enjoyable and excellently produced. The songs are remarkably catchy and in some cases quite beautiful. "Sell the World," for exmaple, is flat-out gorgeous. There are two tracks on this cd with vocal accompaniment. The vocals leave RJD2 very little room to play around, and consequently these are comparatively rather boring from an instrumental point of view. The cd would have been better if left as pure instrumentals, but I guess we can't always have what we want, now can we?
There have been a lot of comparisons between RJD2 and DJ Shadow. I'm not sure why, honestly--RJD2 has a bit of growing up to do before he can hold his own against Shadow. Comparatively, RJD2's compositions are simplistic and repetitive. Shadow weaves his songs like tapestries, sliding in themes and building upon old ones effortlessly. RJD2 lacks that sense of play: he simply has a theme that repeats for eight bars, a variation that goes on for 8 bars, the original, the variation, a bridge... you get the idea.
On the other hand, however, RJD2's songs are much more bouncy and danceable than Shadow's and are great compositions in their own right. It's hard to tell in many spots that RJD2 is using samples at all--the production values on this cd are stellar. Overwhelmingly, RJD2's style is more polished, simple, and mainstream than Shadow's. For 11 bucks, you'd have to be either pretty poor or in pretty poor taste not to pick up this cd. There can only be one Shadow--and RJD2 is damn good in his own right.