2 April, 2010@5:20 am
Biggie’s Life After Death album changed the face of New York rap. The massive double disc collection rewrote all the rules of the city, mainly by outsourcing the production to different houses, expanding upon the sounds and styles associated with the rapper. Songs like “Notorious Thugs” (feat. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony), “Fuckin You Tonight” (feat. R. Kelly) and “The World Is Filled” (feat. Too Short) showed it was okay for a NYC rapper to market himself to different audiences. After all, he could easily win back the hardrocks with songs like “10 Crack Commandments” or “Kick In The Door”. After that, we began to see every major rapper (Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z) do the same, in a formulaic approach that usually counted on DJ Premier for any respective rapper’s one hardcore hip-hop album track. This truly was the blueprint of hip-hop for the last decade.
Prior to this though, you had the Wu-Tang Clan writing the rules on how to make a hip-hop album in New York City, with classic records that featured virtually all in house production. This was an era when rappers defined their own sound, rather than hiring the hottest producers to define it for them. Unfortunately, in the post-Life After Death era, New York City seemed to have lost it’s way, and local acts like the Wu-Tang Clan were forced to rethink their strategies on how to create albums. The end result was a bunch of albums that were more concerned with the moment, rather than the legacy.
The music industry’s recent implosion is catastrophic on many levels, but one way that it is positive is that it actually encourages artists to make art. Raekwon proved this recently with Only Built For Cuban Linx 2, an album he recorded with no intention of blowing up or crossing over, and ended up producing the strongest piece of work to come from the Wu-Tang Clan in years. Quick to cash in on it’s success, Def Jam reunited Raekwon, Ghostface, and Method Man for a group project, allowing the trio to create a rugged hip-hop album, untainted by mountain climbing, electric-guitar playing, A&R’s.
As expected, the final product satisfies on every level, in a neatly packaged 30 minute LP that shows off tight production and razor sharp rhymes. It begins with a pair of sequel records that – in a rare occurrence – actually live up to their predecessors. “Criminology 2.5″ is a tweeked version of the original track, as Ghost and Meth pay homage to Raekwon’s original, while the rematch “Meth Vs. Chef 2″ completely outdoes the original with a dramatic track that ends in momma jokes.
The brief guest appearances on the record help round things like any Wu-Tang LP, keeping things interesting. The pimped out “Smooth Sailing” features a blistering verse from Street Life, while Solomon Childs delivers a hook more raw than anything Gucci Mane could muster. Later, the Scram Jones produced “Youngstown Hiest” is a well planned caper flick, directed by Ghostface Killah, Sheek Louch, and Trife Da God.
The production here is classic Wu-Tang, even if little handled by RZA. “Miranda” for instance is a hypnotic Mathematics banger, while “Dangerous” employs what sounds like an Ol’ Dirty vocal sample as the trio slides comfortably into their element. But the crown jewel is the lead single “Our Dreams”, where RZA outshines them all by samurai chopping a Michael Jackson sample into raw Shaolin goodness. That non-album Alicia Keys Ant Acid remix version also knocks.
Yes, this is a bit of a rush job, but you wouldn’t know it, as we haven’t seen consistancy from the Wu like this in years. The missing element of symbolic kung fu flim samples throughout the album may have tied it all together a little better than say, a Tracy Morgan skit, but in a package this tight, there isn’t a track worth skipping. While heads may complain about the album’s brief playtime, we’ll take an incredible 30 minute listen over a lackluster 74 minute snoozer anytime. Prepare yourselves, a second Wu-Tang dynasty may be upon us.
Leave a Reply
- Raekwon Sets A Release Date For “F.I.L.A.” Album
- BUSH: A Snoop Odyssey Produced By Pharrell Williams [Preview]
- Drake – “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” Surprise Album on iTunes Now
- Action Bronson “Mr. Wonderful” Cover Art and Tracklist
- Juicy J “Blue Dream & Lean 2″ Mixtape Cover Art & Release Date Revealed
- MF Grimm “MF Love Songs” Cover Art + Tracklist
- Lord Hakim – “Brass Knucklez” (feat. Vast Aire & Phizz Ed)
- IAMSU! – “Hella Good” (feat. Tyga)
- DJ Kay Slay – “I Declare War” (feat. Styles P, Sheek Louch, Vado, Raekwon, & Rell)
- Maverick Sabre – “We Don’t Wanna Be” (feat. Joey Bada$$)
- Cannibal Ox – “Blade: Art of Ox” (feat. Artifacts & U-God; prod. Black Milk)
- Asher Roth – “Blow Your Head” (prod. Nottz)