New York Hip-Hop has fallen on hard times as no young talent has stepped up to fill the shoes of the long list of ‘90s legends that laid the foundation. Occasionally however, the city still produces some gems and we can add the Rustee Juxx/Marco Polo collaboration The eXXecution to that list. The album proves that New York (with an assist from Canada) and the one producer-one MC combo can still deliver in 2010, as long as the tracks hit hard enough.
And from the opening moment they do, as Marco Polo delivers modern take East Coast rap. Japanese strings straight from Shaolin form the backbone of the standout “Death Penalty.” Juxx takes advantage, finding his inner street samurai and decapitating his enemies with verbal guillotines. His raw vocal style– a mix of raspy roars and guttural growls—adds an edge to his rhymes that melds well with the dirty bass line of “Rearview.” “Wings on Your Back,” takes a more minimalist approach. A simple drum machine and a few sinister synths make everything sound a little more dangerous, perfect for Juxx’s menacing rhymes and mentor Sean Price’s snarky commentary. Juxx spits battery acid like “Ruste Juxx reign of destruction/over MP production/nasty/simply disgusting/The track too sick/the rhymes too venomous/Slick Vic the Ruler/bow down in my eminence…” to justify his thug.
If there’s any complaint with The eXXecution, it’s that the album goes a little too hard. More than a decade removed from the heyday of gangster rap, fans expect rappers to be adept at different styles. Juxx and Polo eschew that blueprint, instead keeping the focus on the grimy. Ruste does get philosophical and sentimental on the dope album closer “You Can’t Stop Me,” showing that he does have that ability. But this is street hop through and through.
That may limit the appeal of The eXXecution—despite a fantastic piano loop and chantable chorus, it’s unlikely that lead single “Nobody” will be knocking Waka Flocka or the latest Ludacris/Justin Bieber collaboration off the top of 106 & Park. But for those diehard fans fiending for the glory days of Black Moon, Wu-Tang and DJ Premier, The eXXecution can provide a much needed fix. Shoot up and enjoy.