The X-Ecutioners Biography

These US turntablists, formerly known as the X-Men, officially became the X-ecutioners when they made the leap from battle-DJs to recording artists in their own right. Founded in 1989 with the stated intention of dethroning the reigning battle-DJs of the moment, Clark Kent’s Supermen, the crew saw several changes of membership between its inception and its debut to the general listening audience. The eventual line-up comprised Roc Raida (Anthony Williams, 17 May 1972), Total Eclipse (b. Keith Bailey, 26 January 1977), Mista Sinista (b. Joel Wright, 27 October 1970) and Rob Swift (b. Rob Aguilar, 14 May 1972), who collectively signed a contract with Asphodel Records that resulted in 1997’s X-pressions.

These four New York natives can count themselves among a select handful of DJs (including their west coast peers the Invisibl Skratch Piklz) who spearheaded the turntablist movement, by taking the classic hip-hop techniques of mixing and cutting into a whole new realm of musical improvisation. In particular, they made their reputation with the technique of beat-juggling; manually alternating between individual kick and snare sounds to create original drum patterns in real-time. This method was pioneered by X-Men founding member Steve Dee circa 1990. He in turn was inspired by the ‘beat-making’ of Barry Bee, a member of Doug E. Fresh’s Get Fresh Crew, and taken to its full potential by Swift and Roc Raida. Raida, who began DJing at the tender age of 10 (having been introduced to the various aspects of hip-hop culture by his father, a member of the Sugarhill Records -signed act Mean Machine), is the only founding X-Men who remains active with the X-ecutioners. Rob Swift was inducted into the crew by Steve Dee after facing him in competition at the 1991 north-east DMC finals. Sinista was mentored in the art of battling by another long-time member (Dr. Butcher), and Total Eclipse, although long acquainted with various members of the crew through the New York battle circuit, was not officially inducted until he took the ITF world championship in July 1996. Individually, and as a crew, the four have contributed beats and scratches for some of the most notable hip-hop artists of their generation, including Common, Organized Konfusion, the Jungle Brothers, and the Beatnuts, in addition to numerous appearances on compilations such as Bill Laswell’s Altered Beats. Rob Swift became the first X-ecutioner to release a solo effort with the unveiling of The Ablist in 1999, roughly concurrent with their switch to Loud Records to begin work on Built From Scratch. The album featured a collaboration with Linkin Park vocalist Mike Shinoda and turntablist Joseph Hahn on ‘It’s Goin’ Down’.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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