In the future, every public school system will have its own sound system, but until then, the kids wearing headphones and bringing needles to school will still be suspended. But that day is coming soon, and Built from Scratch is helping. Rob Swift, Total Eclipse, Roc Raida and Mista Sinista are The X-Men, aka The X-ecutioners. They are DJs–turntablists–and they have a Top 40 song with Linkin Park, which you might have seen on MTV called “It’s Going Down.” It’s aiight–I would have thought a Pere Ubu collab would be hype–but deejaying has never been so exposed, so I ain’t complaining.
The rest of the album grabs me more, though. Hard spitting label mates MOP, Xzibit, Inspectah Deck and Big Pun all have tracks tightly manipulated by the X-Men, as well as Everlast, Pharoahe Monch and Skillz, who bless the mic in between fiery flares and itchy scratches. And there are humorous skits–poking fun at many of hip-hop’s misguided assumptions and clichés–that would make De La Soul and Masta Ace proud. Biz Markie and The Tom Tom Club get down to the “Genius of Love 2002” (an updating of Chris and Tina’s classic) and Dan the Automator provides powerful production for the X-Men’s self–titled theme song. “A Journey Into Sound” (featuring Kenny Muhammad, The Human Orchestra) combines the sounds of four DJs and one human beatbox. Four DJs are plenty right? Nah, not quite: The World Famous Beat Junkies and Triple Threat unite for a couple of songs. But nothing can really compare to actually seeing these jugglers live, ’cause they don’t just use their hands to keep time. So heads up on the X–Men and remember: A turntable is an instrument.