Five months after the highly successful Rap n' Roll, J-Ax returns with Deca Dance, allegedly conceived as the second half of a two-EP release. While several Italian artists have opted to split their 2009 releases into two half-priced discs as a response to the economic crisis, in J-Ax's case the decision has proved surprisingly beneficial, yielding two consistent albums rather than one winding and probably spotted affair. Besides, at ten tracks and 35 minutes, Deca Dance is an EP only in name: it should rightfully be considered a full studio album, as well as J-Ax's strongest solo release to date. If Rap n' Roll was fueled by anger and a mixture of rap with hardcore and punk, its sunnier side, Deca Dance (not coincidentally intended as a summer release), sees J-Ax merge his hip-hop roots with '90s Euro-pop and house-dance music. This results in a much more fun album, full of wisecracks and name-dropping, that recalls the best moments of Articolo 31. Curiously for someone typically so immersed in the present (and critical of it), the dominant theme of Deca Dance is the past. Most of the songs deal, both thematically and musically, with either growing up as a social outcast in the late '80s and/or starting a music career (in a marginal genre) in the early '90s, all set to beats and styles that include more than a wink to that period. Indeed, titles such as "Old School," "Bitter Years," "The Good Old Times," and "Deca Dance" make no attempt at disguising the past decade or so as the obvious, and slightly obsessive, focus of this album. Conceivably, hardcore fans -- or younger audiences -- may initially wince at J-Ax's relentless self-mythologizing (and ill-concealed nostalgia), as opposed to the pungent description of contemporary Italy of his previous work. Still, everyone would have to agree that Deca Dance includes the best, fully realized, batch of songs he has penned since Articolo 31's Italiano Medio. Just like Rap n' Roll, Deca Dance is produced by Guido Style and boasts an impressive cast of guests that greatly contribute to the album's success: Marracash, Grido from Gemelli DiVersi, the great Neapolitan guitarist Pino Daniele, and most of all, Italy's foremost hip-hop icon, Jovanotti, who duets on the opening track manifesto "Vecchia Scuola." A sure-fire hit, along with the first single "Deca Dance," and guaranteed to keep J-Ax at the top of the Italian charts for months to come.
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AllMusic Review by Mariano Prunes