The success of Built From Scratch made the X-ecutioners a little bit more than your average DJ’s it seems, and they are once again primed to stake their claim as the most underrated turntablist crew in the game. Being that “It’s Goin’ Down” introduced the masses to X-ecutioners with a little help from Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park, Revolutions attempts to build on the healthy dose of fame that they received from all sides of the music spectrum. Once again Rob Smith, Total Eclipse, and Roc Raida get behind the wheels of steel with a little help from a healthy balance of mainstream artists, as well as underground acts to create the hodge podge of turntable mischief and emcee vernacular with Revolutions.
Revolutions relies more on guest appearances than sheer turntabilism, which becomes the yin and the yang of the album. When the trio of Ghostface, Trife, and a mega hungry sounding Black Thought collaborate on the old school feel of “Live From The PJs”, it’s nothing but love. All three emcees take it back to ’88 with a romp that would make any golden era purist grin from ear to ear. Also notable is the Dead Prez assisted “Sucka Thank He Cud Wup Me” where M-1 and stic man deliver razor sharp performances, and the Saigon and Scram Jones charged “Regulators” as the pair of emcees flex along the stabs and scratches the X-ecutioners provide.
When the focus is taken away from the emcees, the results are pretty much noteworthy. Most surprising is the house pop feel of “Like This”, which after a few listens becomes a really fun track. While the X-ecutioners spin vocals from Anikke, surrounded with a pop-rock beat, it may be a bit hard to swallow at first, but with a catchy chorus and foot tapping production it is a pleasant diversion from all the hardcore hip hop. Also welcomed is “Space Invader”, where the wheels are used to tell a story of a robot coming to take over earth. With it’s science fiction vibe and quirky production it becomes a pleasantly innovative concept with solid results.
Where Revolutions slips up is the fact that damn near every track has a guest appearance, which means those who yearn for the trio of DJ’s demonstrating their turntable techniques are in for some disappointment. Revolutions, at times, sounds more like a soundtrack or a mixtape than a DJ album. Also, some of the combinations sound intriguing on paper, but when heard, tend to letdown the listener. Case in point, “More Human Than Human (Remix)” puts together the unique combination of Slug, Rob Zombie, and Josie Scott. Sounds good right? But amongst the volatile guitars, Slug sounds a little uncomfortable behind the mic, resulting in an only average track. Especially knowing the potential of an emcee the caliber of Slug, it isn’t exactly what many would have come to expect.
While Revolutions doesn’t put a new spin on the turntable aspect of hip-hop, it still is a solid album. Even though many may have preferred more turntable gymnastics rather than guest appearances, Revolutions still demonstrates the abilities that the trio of turntabilists possess. Of course, the art of turntabilism is best when seen live, but until then Revolutions is the next best thing to catch a glimpse of how a turntable can sing.
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