On Built From Scratch’s blazing preamble, “XL”, Large Professor asserts, —”this is how it started, two turntables and a microphone.” Yet, as hip-hop has progressed from park jams to Wall Street, the core elements of the culture have been indubitably blurred in the process. The X-ecutioners (Roc Raida, Mista Sinista, Total Eclipse and Rob Swift) are not only a vital link to the past, but more importantly they are conduits to re-establishing the DJ’s importance in hip-hop. And if you don’t think the X-Cutioners realize this, consider that the crew re-created the classic cover of PE’s Yo! Bumrush The Show for its cover art, complete with including the father of hip-hop, Kool Herc, and the founders of the scratch Grandmaster DST and Grand Wizard Theodore.
The DJ compilation is certainly not a new entity. However, the majority of the turntablists behind these compilations failed to recognize one important fact—no matter how much bedroom DJ’s and casual fans of the art admire the intricacies of mixing and blending, that interest does not translate into Soundscan success.
What sets the X-Cutioners apart is that they are able to combine the best of both worlds. Though the team performs precise open-heart surgery on “Choppin’ Niggaz Up”, “X-ecution Of A Bum Rush”, and the ominous “Triple Threat” f/Shortkut, Apollo and VinRoc. They are sagacious enough to realize that more is required to garnish consistent spins in the whip. With that in mind, the X-Cutioners Built From Scratch is not your typical five-fingers (or in this case twenty-fingers) of death scratchathon; as they deftly flip the hook from Pharaohe Monch’s “Simon Says” into the lyrical smorgasbord “Y’all Know The Name” f/ Monch, Xzibit, Inspectah Deck & Mad Skillz, and tap underground staples Large Professor (“XL”) and M.O.P. (“Let It Bang”) for some NY basement flava.
While Built For Scratch is a veritable grab bag of aural treats and a supremely diverse effort; including Big Pun & Kool G Rap’s “Dramacyde” (a forgotten track from Loud’s Black & White Soundtrack), the thrashing rock collabo, “Dramacyde” f/Linkin Park, which is garnishing heavy spins on Alternative stations, and Primo’s ode to himself “Premier’s X-ecution”. The crew’s yearning for mainstream acceptance occasionally leads them down a well-traveled road, exemplified by their attempt to refurbish the Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love” , and Everlast’s corny metaphor ridden “B-Boy Punk Rock 2001″.
Though Built For Scratch may not be a definitive statement on just how significant the DJ’s role is in hip-hop, the X-Cutioners surely make a compelling argument.
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