Marco Polo & Ruste Juxx
The eXXecution
Duck Down

Beats: XL
Lyrics: XL
Originality: L

Canadian producer Marco Polo and Brooklyn rapper Ruste Juxx have one thing on their minds on their new collaborative effort, The eXXecution: killing the competition. By blending Marco’s dark, sample-laden productions with Ruste’s aggressive, punchline-packed verses, they’re largely successful in bringing death to their enemies.

The killing spree begins with “The eXXecution Intro,” as Juxx sets the mood by brazenly spitting, “You wanna rap? Who the fuck is rhymin’ after me?/Only an idiot would have the audacity.” The verbal assault continues on the gritty, piano-tinged “Rearview,” where he metaphorically brags about zooming past his peers. Juxx bullies his way through the incredibly menacing “Bread on Ya Head,” while “Take Money,” finds Heltah Skeltah’s Rock, Freddie Foxxx, and Juxx taking turns targeting fools for their paper. Things peak on the Sean Price-assisted tracks, “Wings on Your Back” and “Fuckin Wit A Gangster,” where the Duck Down labelmates throw up a collective middle finger to anyone trying to step to them.

But the real X factor on The eXXecution is the undeniable chemistry demonstrated by Polo and Juxx. While the self-assured MC is certainly gifted on the microphone, his boasts get a boost from the beatsmith’s production on songs like “Nobody,” as he guns for rap’s No. 1 spot. Likewise, Juxx’s spirited effort on the uplifting “You Can’t Stop Me” complements Polo’s uptempo production perfectly. It’s that balance that ultimately helps The eXXecution go off without a hitch. —Chris Yuscavage