Vex Ruffin Crash Course

Vex Ruffin Crash Course
Even for a label with a roster as eclectic as Stones Throw's, Vex Ruffin is a weird signing. Eschewing 20 years of genre conventions in both punk and hip-hop, the L.A.-based Ruffin wants to take the two back to early '80s NYC, when the Mecca's most potent musical styles started rubbing shoulders at downtown clubs. Over scuzzy, minimalist beats and dirty, single-note guitar riffs, Ruffin raps, speak-sings and monotones, creating a post-punk-hop that equally bastardizes its source material. "I'm Creative" even goes so far as to cheekily cop Peter Hooks' groove from Joy Division's "Leaders of Men." On paper, Crash Course sounds more like insubstantial record nerd fodder, but in practice it's a surprisingly potent combination that ditches the cerebral for the visceral. Whether or not Ruffin can take his unusual sound beyond the six songs on this debut remains to be seen, but Crash Course is a go for the gut blast that's bound to divide music fans. (Stones Throw)