X-Ecutioners: Revolutions Prevail

Coming off with the kind of poised dignity that one might expect from a seasoned Jazz veteran, Rob Swift, 1/3 of the DJ trio The X-Ecutioners, took time to discuss the group’s newest release: “Revolutions.” Coming off their highly praised previous effort, “Built from Scratch,” the “X-Men” search for ways to connect to the masses through their next turntable wizardry.

Although hip hop fundamentalists could consider it an artistic compromise, the X-Ecutioners embrace the opportunity to reach out to a broader group than the standard rap audience, doing so with integrity and the best interest of hip hop culture in mind. Through the interesting range of collaborators (Black Thought of the Roots, Ghostface Killah, and Cypress Hill to name a few), as well as the difference in styles displayed on the album, the trio of turntablists prove to be honest to their art form by demonstrating the true sensibility of a DJ — moving the crowd. Whether that is a crowd of a dance club, or the crowd of a nation begging for originality, the X-Ecutioners figure out a way to deliver the goods. “We love our fan base, without them, I don’t know, we wouldn’t be where we are today. But we’re not here to only please the 10% of the population that likes the stuff that we’ve done, we want to reach out to more people. The younger generations and the older generations. We wanted to make an album that people enjoy, and not necessarily just our core fan base .”

As far as producing an album that stands the test of time, that may be another story. While it’s clear that it’s a noble effort by the trio, the results of targeting an anonymous group of listeners during production, as always, leads to an album that’s good at best, but not great. The album is peppered with moments of brilliance, but is not brilliant. Aside from some rock-solid guest appearances (especially Black Thought and Dead Prez), and some insane scratching sequences, the album, on the whole, seems to be searching for a focal point – and never finding it.

Experimentation and variety, however, are some of the most important aspects of this group. They’ve become a sort of platform in the game for other artists to launch ideas and creative directions that they normally wouldn’t be encouraged to throw down. And the fact that a lead singer-less, lead rapper-less group with no traditional instruments, and an almost “anti-producer” production technique, holds clout in today’s hip hop world, is something to definitely be respected and appreciated. Through their obviously mastered technical abilities on the turntables, they seem to be aware of their purpose, standing as pillars of integrity in the new music world of “hip-pop”.

Between the hard-hittin’ rhythms of the Blue Man Group (The Countdown PT. 2), to the Boriqua fabulous swagger of Fat Joe (The Truth), the X-Ecutioners force you to hear and appreciate the power and spirit of hip hop. “We just want to educate man, educate people about the culture. New fans, we’re tryin’ to teach them the realm of hip hop as DJs – show people where it started.” Probably the hottest track on the album, “Live From the PJ’s,” combines a classic old skool beat, with verses laid down by Ghostface, Black Thought, and Trife. The song has couple of mini-interludes, as well as some sick beat breakdowns, giving the song a rap texture that sounds like something straight out of the late 80s.

So perhaps an album of such variety isn’t meant to be classic in standard hip hop terms. If Nas had brought on several different rappers with several different ideas, his debut album would have, most likely, not been so “Illmatic.” Of course it is possible to record a standout album, while being diverse in production technique. However, maybe the intention of this trio is not to create a classic, but to help in producing an environment for which classics can be made. Drawing from their inspirations (including Rakim, Wu-Tang, and Nas – as well as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The White Stripes, and Pink Floyd), the X-Ecutioners have created a unique niche in the world of music today, which is sure to leave it’s mark for years to come.

Special thanks to Karmaloop.com for their assistance with this article.

Related Content

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide