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14 September, 2005@12:00 am

    Getting the entire Wu-Tang Clan together is hard. Not 9th grade high-honors geometry hard, I’m talking about, mapping out the human genome hard. Well, maybe not that hard, but let’s put it this way, you’d have a better chance acing the math section of the SAT’s than getting the original Shaolin warriors together. But then again, you’re not the legendary Wu DJ, Mathematics. Since marking his spot in Wu Tang history by creating the symbolic Wu Tang “W” logo, Mathematics has been hard at work honing his skills as a premier producer. After learning the craft from chief Wu architect, Rza, Mathematics has gone on to produce music for television shows, video game soundtracks, as well as his freshman solo effort, Love, Hell, Or Right. Armed with a bevy of soul samples, the founding fathers of the Wu, and a slew of new comers, Mathematics proves he has the perfect formula for a good album.

    The first noticeable difference between The Problem and Love, Hell, Or Right is the inclusion of every original Wu member. ODB even has a posthumous verse along side Masta Killa and U-God on the wonderfully unfocused “Break That.” The first noticeable similarity, however, is the non-Wu guest features that are littered throughout more than half of the album. These young bucks, some of which were featured on Math’s freshman album, do a formidable job carrying the weight of the album. New jack Hot Flames, delivers just that on “Can I Rise,” telling tales of hood misfortunes. Queensbridge representative Ali Vegas proves why he should have been signed to the majors’ years ago, spitting harrowing narratives and witty advice (“You wanna shine? Ya best bet is to stand in the sun”) over the eerie strings and rolling bassline of “Winta Sno.” While the newcomers play a central role in the scheme of the album, they can’t help but play second fiddle to the Wu-Gambinos.

    “Strawberries & Cream,” has Inspectah Deck, Rza and Ghosftface reminiscing about past love (making) over a syrupy soul concoction with faltering drums and sappy crooning. An untamed Method Man lets loose on “Rush,” spitting serious lines over the jocular beat: “Take it to the Source, Hip-Hop quotable of course, I’m pulling out my roots to reveal my black thought.” Cappadona even takes times from his taxi duties to make an appearance on the bonus cut, “Spot Lite.”

    Giving the lions share of the album to a group of uninitiated rhyme slingers was a gutsy decision for Mathematics, fortunately, the gamble paid off. In between the veteran verses of Staten Islands finest, the new comers, for the most part, hold their own. A deviation from the gangster-with-a-story M.O. would have proven beneficial for artists such as T-Slugz who’s dreary vocals on “Bullet Scar,” could have been replaced by a more intriguing, M.C., like for instance, Hot Flames or Ghostface. Yet, with a bevy of verses that range the scale of emotions and beats to match, The Problem should be a welcomed addition to everyone’s Wu-Tang collection.

  Mixtape D.L.
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