X-Vandals - The War of Art
"The War of Art" is a very smart and relentless indictment of government
and media, from the unheard voices of an urban Puerto Rican community in
America. Unlike most of the so called "Revolutionary Hip-Hop Artists" of today,
this album paints a responsible picture of what it takes to be Revolutionary and
without a doubt in my mind the X-Vandals are new leaders of a musical and
soulful rebellion. Like Public Enemy before them, the X-Vandals are able to take
sounds and distorted noise smashing them together to create an energetic,
aggressive and violent musical experience with an in your face revolutionary
edge, and with inspiring self-respect, self-determination and self-empowerment.
The New York-based X-Vandals are a Puerto Rican politically charged hip-hop group made up of Public Enemy producer and studio deejay Johnny "Juice" Rosado who is cited as taking part in the group's greatest album to ever hit the rap market "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back," teamed up with Not4Prophet, the voice and front man of Latin punk band Ricanstruction.
Though their musical backgrounds are like day and night, they manage to come together beautifully to create a musical eclipse reminiscent to that of The Bomb Squad's work in their early Public Enemy days. Not4Prophet puts in work in "War of Art" with a major and unexpected twist to his rap vocals. His voice and delivery are unique and play a major role in the overall sound of the X-Vandals. His style comes off as almost being another musical instrument making its sonic presence throughout the album.
Although he sounds great and on point and I really enjoy the semi-singing style in songs like "Signs of the Surface" which is probably the most mellow song on the album. After listening to the album as a whole I felt a little fatigued of Not4Prophet's over doze of vocal energy though out the majority of the album. I would have liked to have heard a different flow on more songs, just to switch it up and make it a little more entertaining.
The album starts off with "There Goes the Neighbor-Hoods”, a non-vocal track built as the introduction of the X-Vandals, their music and their mission. Here, Johnny Juice not only shines because of his skills as a deejay, but also sums up a sonic sample of what a Bomb Squad record would sound like if it were to be a single track. Then immediately jumps into one of my favorites, the hardcore and all in your face "Sweatshop Basquiat". Other album favorites of mine are "Terror Wrists" which features Chuck D on the hook, "A Poem for Black Boys", which is a real poem by Nikki Giovanni, "Todos Somos Macheteros" and the album's single "Life Is Warfare".
The album is great and it's unfortunate that a lot of Hip-Hop lovers will probably never get a chance to hear it. It was made by talented artists who really love the hip-hop culture and most important it gives what even a lot of today’s so called "Revolutionary Artists and Groups" are lacking and that’s a full vision and truth about what being a Rebel really is. The “War of Art” will not challenge the top releases of 2008 in sales, but it is no way less important in the history of Puerto Ricans and the growing Latin Hip Hop movement.
There Goes The Neighbor-Hoods
Signs Of The Surface
Up In The Bronx
Life Is Warfare
Masters Of War
A Poem For Black Boys
Beat The Shitstem
An I For An I
Todos Somos Machetero
Click Here for X-Vandals BP Interview