X-Vandals
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X-Vandals

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band Hip Hop Rock

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


“Or perhaps (trying to escape and atone, or, perhaps, simply trying to live), the boy will become a kind of revolutionary, a superior and dedicated gangster: for there is a reason that the heroes of the poor resemble so little (and yet so closely resemble!) the heroes of the rich.” - James Baldwin, The Devil Finds Work

I put down Baldwin’s prophetic book about race and media and rebellion and pushed play on my cd player to listen to the first release of hip hop group the X-Vandals, The War of Art, and heard Baldwin’s searing words laid down on wax, amplified through speakers, reborn over beats and renegade rhymes.

X-Vandals is the bastard birth of Not4Prophet, lead singer of the Puerto Rican punk band Ricanstruction and star of the underground film Machetero, and DJ/ B-Boy/ Graffiti Writer and Turntablist Johnny "Juice" Rosado of Public Enemy fame.

Dubbed by Not4Prophet “a semi-autobiographical bronx-fairy-tale of two cities,” The War of Art is an allegorical enigma, a pop culture percussion bomb time released over 13 tracks.

This is one of the few hip hop albums to be released in this millennium that is self-reflexive. Its self-consciousness is compressed into an urban decay reality that spat out both of these barrio boricua brothas. This is the conversation hip hop has now that it has grown up and finally figures out it not only has something to say; it knows exactly what that something is.

Each track, from “Sweatshop Basquiat” (a nod to the history of graf as well as art underground) to “Revolution Party,” tells the story of a young kid down these mean streets, word to Piri Thomas, racking up because as Not4Prophet sings in the first song, “i sucked at basketball/ but i slam dunked overhauls/on pristine suburban malls.”

Stealing, vandalizing, surviving in a land of no survival: “wild styles fbi files / crack viles exiles jumping the turnstyles/ white line hard times drop a rhyme” (which you learn from reading “The Signs on the Surface”).

But then this heartworn thug realizes he can in fact “Beat the System,” and that we are all Macheteros (“Todos Somos Machetero”), which features Mexican rapper Sista Hailstorm and Palestinian female rapper Shadia) and that’s what kicks off the “Revolution Party,” a remake of Bob Marleys “Punky Reggae Party,” which shakes the club with sounds of sedition: “everybody's comin' thru/Mandela and Tutu… Yuri Kochayama/ you don't need no money/Nikki Giovanni/ Sundiata Acoli role up in a humvee.”

The beats and lyrics compliment each other, a sort of ordered chaos, organized konfusion, contained anarchy. Layered as thick as the paint on the old NYC subway trains, Juice’s music and the audio samples, movies, politics speeches, news reports, a poem by Nikki Giovanni, create a soundscape as apocalyptic and full of promise as the South South Bronx in 1978.

You can hear PE in Juice’s scratches and punk/hip hop cuts (since they grew up as terrible twins), or more rightly, you hear Juice in PE’s albums, which he carries here. The result is a continuity, a connection to the history of hip hop, old skool fused with a new rage, funneled into beats that make you pump your fist and shake ya ass to the relentless rhythm.

Not4Prophet’s lyrics paint all over the album in wild bold styles – from rapping to chanting, screaming to singing to swinging, he jumps from a falsetto in “A Poem for Black Boys,” a la Curtis Mayfield, to his rusty nails front line rhymes of “Life is Warfare.”

In the end, this album is a literary hood reflecting on where he came from and where he’s at (cuz it’s about both), speaking to an international political condition through rebel lips and seditious tongue clicking against bastard teeth.

I think that in his liner notes for the album, Chuck D is echoing James Baldwin perfectly when he writes, “We heard and felt the infinite avenues of rap and revolution being played within a block party for-your-right-to-fight atmosphere of iconoclastic innocence… X-Vandals brings the noise with modern day machetero methods, proving that if we refuse to lose, this is a war of art we just might win in the end of this new beginning.”
- Left Turn Magazine


Discography

X-Vandals debut full length, The War of Art, was released in 2008.

Various songs have been streamed on the internet as well as played on college radio stations in the U.S. and Latin America.

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Bio

X-Vandals were born and raised in the heart of the infamous South Bronx, where the city burned while Hip Hop was being born.

Emcee Not4Prophet, the Nuyorican son of a former salsa musician from Puerto Rico, started out as a homeless kid in New York City writing graffiti on walls and went on to make political punk rock and form an arts agitation collective that he called Ricanstruction Netwerk....

while DJ Johnny Juice, a Nuyorican B-Boy/Graffiti writer, went on to become one of Hip Hops premiere DJs and worked with Hip Hops legendary Public Enemy Bomb Squad as well as producing other popular Hip Hop, jazz and R&B artists.

Today, as X-Vandals, Not4Prophet and Johnny Juice have combined forces and fused their many influences and inspirations to create a radical and revolutionary sound and message that is all their own and that is making "hip Hop a threat again"....