Wu-tang alum, Chef Raekwon, has been in the kitchen for a while since his last album, Immobilarity. Fans of the portly m.c. have been hankering for his new album, The Lex Diamond Story, for quite some time. The question presented: Is the new album a scrumptious delight, a la Only Built for Cuban Linx…, or a putrid, lukewarm side dish as in the aforementioned, Immobilarity? Fans are graciously served with a combination of the two, a good album with many flaws.
The album starts on a high note with the jittery first track, Pit Bull Fights. Raekwon raps with the ferocity of a dog in heat when he spits: “I see firemen ambulances/ narcotic mansions/ so melodic rock/ chronic pop/ tonic scrambling.” The album continues to soar with the featured guests who range from Wu-tang affiliates such as Ghostface Killah and Inspectah Deck to other well respected emcees like Fat Joe and Havoc from Mobb Deep. The guests actually outshine Raekwon and that’s where the problems with the album start to emerge.
Raekwon’s talent has seemingly diminished from album to album and for every taut verse rhymed, there are about ten more that offer nothing substantial to the track. Case in point, on the track Pa-Blow Escablow, Rae raps: “Hug your right hand/ jumped off the plane/ kiss the white man/ instead he had curly hair/ chubby mustache nigga.” Fans of Rae have had to hear their fair share of nonsensical lyrics for the sake of connecting rhymes, but this is ridiculous.
Another rather annoying problem is the skits. The many that layer the album are pointless and bog down the pace. Couple this with the been there, heard that sounds of Raekwon’s new protégés, ICE WATER, and we have a pretty muddled listen on our hands.
All is not lost, though. Raekwon, even with all of his rhyming idiosyncrasies, still provides a fresh voice in the rap arena. Rae will use the same topic in basically all his songs, i.e. shoot-outs, drug busts, etc., but spice it up with colorful street lingo that sounds not only refreshing but more importantly different than a majority of the emcees out there rapping about the same things. This keeps the album afloat at times when it seems the whole project is going to capsize due to weak production and tired scenarios.
All in all, The Lex Diamond Story is a decent hors de oeuvre. It won’t fill you up, but it will leave you with the feeling that you’ve eaten. Hopefully the Chef’s next album will make fans beg for seconds. Check, please!