Artist: Rob SwiftTitle: As The Tables Turn (DVD)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine
Along with DJ Q-Bert, Rob Swift is the face and hands of turntablism. The Jackson Heights, Queens native has evolved from Akinyele’s DJ to the spokesman of the X-Ecutioners to a true advocate of the turntable’s capability as a musical instrument. As the Tables Turn (The Ablist Productions) tells Rob’s story with archival footage, a voyeuristic look at his life and upbringing, and intimate interviews with the man himself.
Although the X-Ecutioners were heavily chronicled in their time at Loud Records as well as in the film Scratch, few knew them as the X-Men. Through rare footage of a young Roc Raida, Mista Sinista, Total Eclipse, and Rob, we see how this historic DJ crew formed, and what it looked like previous to Rob. Other footage includes Rob’s studying under acclaimed mixer Dr. Butcher to perfect his craft as a teen. While many can assume Rob Swift earned his master status on his own, the DJ is quick to credit Butcher and Steve D as seminal influences.
What may be most interesting to some, is this film’s revealing look at the X-Ecutioners’ break-up as they were. Rob points out that Rick Rubin had offered the group a deal at Def American, but due to X-Men co-founder Sean C’s A&R position at Loud, the group felt obligated to sign. As Rob felt otherwise, he and Roc Raida began to disagree on other issues. Both Rob and Raida get to the heart of the hardly-publicized split, and both claim their friendship to be back in good standing today. All of these stories are told with a revealing camera, interesting backdrops, and superior production and editing.
Just as The Game and Wu-Tang Clan have made DVDs profiling their careers, Rob Swift was able to give an insightful autiobiography, using the medium of film. As the Tables Turn shows a level of professionalism not typically seen in Hip-Hop DVD, let alone in the DJ realm. For anyone who aspires to foster the kind of skills that Rob Swift demonstrates show after show, album after album, this work shows the strides its taken to get there.