14 March 2011

Review: Raekwon "Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang"

The album title comes from a movie of the same name. Historic Wu-Tang fans will have already known that. However, a better name for this album would have been "Raekwon and Friends" for all of the guest appearances on it. I'm not surprised, though; someone that is a member of a multi-faceted hip-hop group for the span of his career is bound to fail at a solo venture. Or so one might think. Rae has done his own thing before and this is nothing different, although this jawn is FYRE when compared to his last one. It saddens me that Only Built For Cuban Linx 2 was slept on but Shao v Wu should awaken the critics. 

I have one gripe with this album, and one gripe only. I wanted more Raekwon and ONLY Raekwon. He's present on every track, yes, but I feel that he has more than enough strength, skill, stamina and dexterity to handle his own on an album with limited features. You have to expect a few members of the Wu to stop through, namely Ghostface and Method Man, but Rick Ross, Jim Jones, Estelle?!?!

I'm not mad at it, though. That's the flip side of this coin. Estelle's hook on "Chop Chop Ninja" is catchy as hell and very unexpected. I'm loving the shine that she is getting. This is a great look for her and the layout of the song is unusual but fierce. I've never been an Inspectah Deck fan but he does his thing on the track. Rick Ross' flow on Molasses is anything but. The fat man rolls words off of his tongue with lyrical swiftness, and although his verse is short, it's memorable.

I could speak all day on the awesome features on this album (like Busta Rhymes on Crane Style) but that's a moot point. They're there and they're awesome, for the most part. Jim Jones even did his thing, but he fails to shine against the likes of Ghostface Killah in "Rock N Roll." 

Raekwon definitely holds his own on the album, as well he should. Like I said before, I'd like to have seen more of him and less of others (like the recycled Nas verse on "Rich and Black") but overall, it's a typical CLASSIC album of Wu proportions. The skits aren't too unnecessary and heavy and have their place in the album given the title. I actually would have been confused and surprised had there not been any movie cuts. 

The production on this album is wild as well. I found my head bobbing on every single track, which is almost always riding under a skit (that also helped to make them bearable). RZA had no hand in production but Rae went and built a nice ass house to place his work in. 

Bottom line: worth copping. Rae brings along almost the entire Wu with other flavorful guests and brings back some of what the most die-hard hip hop heads have been seeking. 

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