My experience with Raekwon has been limited I will admit. I’m a huge fan of Wu-Tang Clan’s “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)”, and I have listened to his last album “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II” only a handful of times. Other than that “Shaolin vs Wu-Tang” is kind of my first true experience with Raekwon. The album starts out with the classic audio clips from old Wu-Tang karate movies, a little thrill ride to get your blood pumping for the rest of the tracks. Method Man and Ghostface Killah are the first two appearances made and they make the first half of this album for me. They both are artists with true skill in my book and what they bring to Shaolin vs Wu-Tang is invaluable to it’s success (Method Man appears on “Every Soldier in the Hood” and “From The Hills”, and Ghostface on “Silver Rings”, “Rock N Roll”, and “Molasses”.
Speaking of “Rock N Roll”, Ghostface Killah may have added to the quality of this album, but there is no hope for this track at all. I’m not sure what Raekwon had in mind when he commissioned DJ Khalil to produce this song, but I’m hoping it wasn’t this. At first I wanted to like the song, but once I heard the hook I resigned any effort to enjoy it. The song staggers around like a drunk sorority girl until it finally finds the staircase and it’s all downhill from there. Perhaps I’m being too harsh, after all it is only one track out of seventeen. But I just get so angry whenever I hear Kobe say “Bon Jovi” in the chorus. Bon Jovi is as much to rock n roll as Kenny G is to crack rap to me. The mention of Led Zeppelin does greatly make up for that flaw however.
Despite the complete disdain I have for that one track I truly enjoy the rest of the album. Where the first half of the album was lyrically strong, I feel the second half has quality production and beats. I’m the type of person who has to spend one listen through of a hip hop album just listening to lyrics, then the second time can be the instruments and beats, and finally the third time through I can take in the whole picture. For my first two listens I was impressed for the most part. When I took in the whole picture a lot more of the album began to make sense and it really caught my attention.
Raekwon has maintained the unique style that is Wu-Tang. A style that I can get in to, but hasn’t hooked me as other hip hop styles have. So it took me a little while to warm up to this album but in the end I’m very pleased with it. I’m certainly going to go back and listen to Raekwon’s past releases and I will not hesitate to purchase any future ones as well. As much as I wished this album would have been an entire Wu-Tang collaboration (it’s true origins) I am very satisfied with what Raekwon did with it.
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