Bringing New York back. Who the hell still wants that stigma attached to his career? It qualifies you to an increasingly insular demographic of rap of fans who either rally behind otherwise unremarkable, average emcees because “they rep the city” or those that are still stuck somewhere circa 1996 and believe hip-hop really died when the south got on top in the early naughts. Both instances are not the case with Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, who offers remarkably personal insights in his life and his environment: New York City.
“Fuck The Throne, watch the project bench covered in pigeon shit” he spits on the spectacular stand-out posse cut “The Last Huzzah” (the El-P verse by itself already makes the project a must listen for any rap afficionado). It perfectly encapsulates his attitude. Gritty, and tied to his real-life experiences. Those of a New Yorker who grew up on rough avenues reading Marvel comics and listening to hip-hop, loving it. But as much as his music is fueled by love it is often fueled by its counterpoint as well. Anger, frustration and doubt speak in volumes throughout the tape, like when he wonders if he shouldn’t have quit his job or why he bet his life on a horse that seems likely to win the race everyday (Starting lucrative a rap career in 2011? Yeah, right) on ‘Nothing Even Matters.’ It’s easy to relate to the blue collar ethos when he raps “Everyone puts on this facade like they grindin’ so hard / but you gon’ die broke with a regular job” on ‘Michael Dudikoff,’ and when that’s how you’ve titled a track it’s already well on its way toward winning. Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire never pulls his punches and shows no sign of compromise to his aesthetics or attitude. This results in a cavalcade of hard knocking beats like those by El-P (several classics from the heyday of Def Jux as well as instrumentals from his WeAreAllGoingToBurnInHellMegaMixx series get pummeled into submission) or Esoteric with some moments of more traditional but nonetheless dope boombap from the likes of Charli Brown Beatz or Jake One.
The album is not without its blemishes though. The ‘not giving a fuck’ attitude finds its downside in the skit that follows ‘Cockmeat Sandwich/Pissin’ Between Train Cars’ which features some uneventful freestyle ‘singing’ by a random chick and further devolves into unappatizing sex noises before it’s finally over. The other skits don’t add much to the overall experience either and only serve to break up the flow of the tape. Still, these minor glitches are easily overlooked and the darker tracks of the album are smartly balanced by more loving moments like ‘I Should Be Sleeping,’ a sincere ode to his mother, or ‘Chicken Spot Rock,’ the appropriately titled song about his favorite chicken spot, as well as the inspiredly geeky storytelling of ‘The Maltese Falcon’ parts I and II.
While the album is steeped in the streets of New York the flourishes of specific points and relevance to his personal life actually makes the album easily relatable to citizens around the globe. On the Necro-produced banger ‘Huzzah” he raps in response to being called “Mr. eXquire:” “Don’t forget the muthafuckin,’ without that it’s nothing” and when you’ve listened to ‘Lost In Translation’ you know why. Similar to Bill Murray in the film of the same title, it’s the tale of a man searching his direction in life, while he temporarily parties away the insecurities haunting him. The brutal honesty and passion with which he shares the skillfully spit stories of his life make it definitely worth experiencing by proxy for the listener, warts and all.