From about 93-98, hip-hop was riding high, and Wu-Tang led the charge. Albums by the Clan, Method Man, Raekwon, GZA, and Ghostface, among others, hit hard with critical and commercial success. However, the Clan as a whole seemed to have fallen off for a few years. Albums were more dispersed from the crew as a whole and even the solo albums only casually made it to market. But in the last couple years the Wu-Tang dynasty has entered a new renaissance. Ghostface drops nearly 2 albums a year, the crew has reunited and new albums from the GZA, and Raekwon are both forthcoming.
Now that the RZA has dropped Digi Snacks, after the feuds with the other members, of Wu-Tang, it almost seems strange that this is a solo project. This album, if anything, is more of a return to classic Wu form then anything on The 8 Diagrams was. Not that that’s a bad thing. But for all the insistence of being the leader on 8 Diagrams, it’s his own solo album that the RZA relinquishes production to David Banner, King Tech and the RZA himself among others.
“Long Time Coming” and “You Can’t Stop Me Now” both kick off the album on what sounds like a slightly slicker, yet still dark sound. If earlier Wu-Tang was still wet from the rain, the storms still pouring on these tracks. The RZA sounds perfectly at home on “You Can’t Stop Me Now”, laying down some old stories as he drops “While Ghost was doin’ stick-ups, tryin’ to make a vic’ up / Waitin’ outside for the Brinks truck to pick up”. While David Banner can be hit or miss, “Straight Up the Block” is a solid beat with a Jay-Z sample for the chorus. Unfortunately, the RZA isn’t up to full power on one the best beats of the album.
RZA sounds right at home over “Booby Trap”, a track that sounds like the musical equivalent of breaking into a safe. It’s a sparse beat and that’s what makes it work. “Good Night” is one of the last solid tracks before the album heads in a tailspin. It’s a solid lightheaded beat but it could’ve been made better without the consistent moaning over the top. Once it cuts out, the song is a relaxing midpoint for the album.
Unfortunately a lot of what falls apart is the RZA. He’s never been a great lyricist, but he has his moments, especially on Wu-Tang Clan records. But it’s a combination of his voice and his almost lack of effort. Certainly he’s capable but he doesn’t show up. Sometimes its not always about what’s coming out but how it’s coming out, and unfortunately the RZA doesn’t step it up in either aspect. – Dane Johnson
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