Marco Polo & Ruste Juxx
The trio of Polo, Juxx, and Revolution continues into track two, entitled "Death Penalty." A sample-heavy beat that undeniably knocks, Juxx promises a "death penalty for all you rats and snakes," while Revolution provides a scratch hook. However, the solid production and stunningly precise cuts from DJ Revolution seem to overshadow Ruste's sub-par rhymes, which is the start of a problem that seems to plague most of the LP. This becomes even more apparent on The eXXecution's low points, such as "I Am On It" and "Watch Yo Step." On "I Am On It," Marco brings a slightly more mellow-feeling beat to the table rather than the notoriously ominous instrumentals more tailored to Ruste's lyrical mannerisms, and Ruste seems to only be able to muster up bars like, "these shells don't taste like Velveeta / These shells hotter than a muthafuckin' heater." "Watch Yo Step" is Marco Polo production at its finest, with a sample-based, melodically bass-heavy beat, with Ruste Juxx spitting unwarranted braggadocio. As he claims, "I write rhymes, each and every day / And always seem to come with something fresh to say / Hitting hella groupies looking for who's next to lay / Need some new flesh, mami you was yesterday," a listener will probably be tempted to call Juxx's bluff. If rapping about banging copious amounts of female fans is something fresh to say, Ruste must think that his audience has been living in a Hip Hop-free cave for the last 20 years.
However, just because Ruste doesn't enjoy rapping about much beyond guns, sex, drugs, and street life, it doesn't mean that the album doesn't have some great songs. One high point comes in the form of "Let's Take a Sec" featuring Black Moon. DJ Evil Dee, Da Beatminerz' leader, brings some humor to the introduction of the track, which ends up being a high-energy ode to Hip Hop that fans of both the old and new schools will be able to enjoy and appreciate. Marco Polo's boom bap style, punctuated by constant snares, is an excellent backdrop for the emcees to ask for a listener to "scream it loud if you represent the real Hip Hop, let me hear you say I represent the real, it's going down!" In addition, the final track, "You Can't Stop Me" may arguably be the best on the album, with Ruste straying from the usual shot popping and gun busting to actually show some emotion. As Polo begins the track with a dark synth melody, Juxx opens up admitting, "Since the '90s / Friends, I done lost over 20 / All in the streets over drugs, over money / diseases, jail, bullets with no names on 'em / Family gave up on 'em / Some friends changed on 'em," which gives a different viewpoint to the street life that he rapped about throughout the whole album. He even gets motivational (or at least as motivational as a guy who rapped about getting pulled over "strapped, with a pocket full of crack" can get) on the hook, bragging while borderline singing, "Ain't nobody wanna see me on top, now I'm looking down at 'em like who's gonna stop me now? Can't stop me now, can't stop me…".
At the end of the day, it's more of Marco Polo's production than Ruste Juxx's rhymes that make The eXXecution worth a listen. Features from Rock (of Heltah Skeltah) and Sean Price (who jokingly claims to be Juxx's ghostwriter at the end of "Fuckin' Wit A Gangster" ), give some variety from Juxx's mediocre punchlines and monotonous subject matter, yet seeing how Marco Polo flips samples into something new (such as the one used in "Bread on Ya Head," which flips the sample used in "4 Da Fam" by The Roc La Familia squad) proves much more interesting than the lyrical aspect of the LP. One may even walk away from the album hoping that Marco Polo would just go ahead and do a collaborative effort with DJ Revolution, as less than a minute of his cuts were more impressive than more than half of the rhymes on The eXXecution. An average release overall, Marco Polo joins his inspirations such as DJ Premier (Group Home), Large Professor (Big Noyd) and Pete Rock (Jim Jones), who all, at various points in their career, produced for simpler-rhyming street scholars.