X-Ecutioners – the 4 man DJ battle team of Rob Swift, Mista Sinista, Total Eclipse and DJ Roc Raida… oh sorry that should be Grandmaster Roc Raida, have come out with a new album, Built From Scratch, to take turntablism, from an underground phenomenon to a more accessible sound. But before you yell out “CHEESE”, be aware that this is no P.Diddy sellout record, this is straight up hip hop for 2002 using the techniques and more built up from the days when Grandmaster Flash had his adventures behind the wheels of steel.
No hip hop album is complete nowadays without the usual Intro and, ever since De La (actually Prince Paul)brought them out, the Skit. A lot of albums have really wack skits and get way too played out, however The X-Ecutioners have pulled out some decent skits and incorporated a lot of scratching routines into them as well as being quite funny. The skit to hear is the “You Can’t Scratch” as it describes me quite well.
This album isn’t about skits, but about hip hop and turntablism and the proper tracks have been done quite well.
Intro featuring Vinroc, Shortkut and Apollo of the Triple Threat DJ’s. All the mad scratch DJ’s in the states are the Filipino’s mainly on the west coast (San Francisco to be exact) and they are represented well on this album.
XL featuring Large Professor. Smooth head nod hip hop with one of the MC’s from Main Source. Upon listening to this you can easily say it sounds familiar and it does, I just can’t put my finger on where the backing track comes from.
X-Ecutioner’s Scratch. Old Skool scratch madness. You can recognise a lot of the cuts here as the X-Men take you on a hip hop history lesson. The same kinda vibe goes for all scratchy tracks on the album.
A Journey Into Sound featuring Kenny Mohammed. The first I heard this guy was on Rahzel’s album and can this guy beatbox. He compliments the X-Men’s style very well as they cut up the battle breaks with technical proficiency.
Let It Bang feat MOP. A bit of a tribute to their classic Ante Up track, this one is sure to start any party with MOP’s hardcore rhyme delivery and the production which makes it almost sound like a rock song. Get your hands in the air!
X-Ecutioners Theme Song feat. Dan The Automator. This has that signature Automator feel to it, real head nod hip hop which sounds like something from the Handsome Boy album. I really dig the juggle routine at the end where they created their own drum pattern using battle records.
It’s Going Down feat. Mike Shinoda and Mr. Hahn of Linkin Park. The hard rock/rap style we’ve come to expect from Linkin Park has been taken into the X-ecution chamber ready to be cut up. This has been getting a lot of play on JJJ already and is quite a decent track. The only thing that brings it down is a pretty average and flowless rap from Mike Shinoda. The instrumental on the 12″ kicks ass, however it’s not hard to see people moshing to the sound of the turntables after hearing this song.
Premier’s X-ecution. Gangstarr’s DJ Premier put his signature smooth hip hop production style on this as the X-Men cut on top. I love the bassline but where’s Guru to kick a rhyme flow?
The X feat. Pharoahe Monche, Xzibit, Inspectah Deck and Skillz. What is a hip hop album nowadays without a posse cut? Luckily they picked the creme de la creme of MC’s today to flow on top of this beat. After cutting up his samples in 3 Borough’s (a song which appears early in the album but not reviewed here), Pharoahe Monche makes a personal appearance here and kicks some real flows. Xzibit never fails to impress with his usual gruff voiced delivery. Inspectah Deck shows that he is a versatile Wu-Tanger and kicks some decent lines and Skillz PKA Mad Skillz delivers some mad skills on the mike.
Genius Of Love 2002 feat. Tom Tom Club and Biz Markie.
A cover of Tom Tom Clubs’ Genius Of Love featuring Tom Tom Club themselves and Biz Markie with his usual comic rhyme delivery. The part I like in this song is when they changed the original lyrics and pay tribute to legends like Bootsy Collins, Bob Marley, Smoky Robinson and Sly & Robbie.
B-Boy Punk Rock 2001 feat. Everlast. More piano sampling hip hop beats, but not as crazy as Busta Rhyme’s Woo Hah. Everlast’s flow is pretty stock standard House Of Pain style yet works pretty well.
Play That Beat feat. Fatman Scoop. After hearing his Faith Evans sampling club anthem, “Be Faithful”, this track could be the next one in line to follow that path. This is another history lesson in hip hop as this samples a hip hop classic. Fatman Scoop goes nuts on the mike instructing people how to dance with the typical shouts of who his DJ’s are.
Play That Beat feat. Fatman Scoop. (Lo-Fidelity All Stars Remix) A bit more of a disco groove on this one. I would have never picked the Lo-Fi’s to remix the X-ecutioners but anythings possible in dance music nowadays. I prefer this mix overall especially when Fatman Scoop can get a little on the annoying side and the vocoder adds that extra bit of funk.
Dramacyde feat Big Pun and Kool G Rap. Thug style rap flows from hip hop’s originator of gangsta rap and the deceased Big Pun. Kool G’s flow sounds similiar to the awesome flow he contributed to the UNKLE release, but this song shows off more of the X-Men instead of the MC’s.
X-Ecution Of A Bum Rush feat. Babu and J-Rocc of the Beat Junkies. More of that East coast vs. West Coast turntablism and a great Outro to the album. I like the hip hop samples coming from hip hop groups from both coasts like Dilated Peoples, Gangstarr etc.
If you are a big fan of hip hop then this will appeal to you and is also a great introduction to the world of turntablism since previous releases by Mix Master Mike, Q-Bert and the X-ecutioners are hard to come by and can also leave you largely out of pocket. This doesn’t have the real raw and underground feel that their first album, X-pressions has, yet it still maintains the same cool and will definitely be elevated to classic status in time.