When Hip-Hop strolled into the debutante ball in her homespun garb, she barely got a glance. Those who did look scoffed at her lack of instruments, forgetting that guitarsbassdrums are only tools, with no imagination besides that which is brought to them. Two decades later, sitting prettier after capping the pop competition, the shallow glitter of bling-bling glints like a new dye job on a blond boob-job bimbo, hiding nothing behind the blank stare. But art and commerce have always had the kind of relationship that ends in decadence, self-absorption and stagnation. Meanwhile, the X-Ecutioners are a throwback to the early artistry of hip-hop, when samples zinged from side to side, when records stuttered and scratched out rhythm in a collage of sound, and before rappers fell in love with their own reflections. In the old two-turntables-and-a-microphone equation, the X-Ecutioners put the emphasis on the tables, passing beats, scratches and samples like a musical hacky-sack. They're funky, frenetic and rare enough to be fresh -- not to mention they're one of the few hip-hop acts these days that is better in person.


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