I really had my hopes up that this would be the album that would restore my faith in the greatness that was once the Wu-Tang Clan. Sadly this is the last straw for fans of the Wu like you and me, we shouldn’t have to put up with this. ‘Cuban Linx’ was a classic album so obviously its gonna be hard to follow that up, but a decent effort isn’t even show here, its just poor. Now the main problem with the Wu lately has been the lack of RZA, and with his very few appearances a drop in quality and that’s putting it lightly. Where Rza was once dominant over a Wu-tang album he merely just signs on as ‘Executive producer’ these days and he doesn’t even do that here. Raekwon holds his own, he's still coming out with the same stuff lyrically as he always has but there are 2 things missing from this album. First off its good production, Rza may be lacking but Raekwons choice of producers have just come with cheap sounding beats and basic mediocrity, only a handful of tracks make me listen to them the whole way through. Second, its Ghostface, the tag team partnership is sorely missed here, the 2 bond when they collaborate on a track and carrying most of the album on his own is something new to Rae and while he tries his best it just don’t work.
The album builds up with an intro that is reminiscent of the plan in ‘Striving for perfection’ a beautiful layered beat accompanies Rae here so why the hell didn’t he rhyme over it? ‘Yae Yo’ starts the album nicely but unfortunately this is where problems begin, it’s a nice fast paced track that should have set a standard for what’s to come but it just slowly goes downhill from here. ‘100 rounds’ and ‘Friday’ have a west coast feel to them but it’s a vibe that Rae cannot adapt to as he sounds awkward and out of time. The same thing can be said about ‘Heart to heart’ which sounds more like a freestyle over a beat used a thousand times before. Things are not looking good so far are they? Embarrassing is the only word that can sum up ‘All I got is you part 2’, while this could have been a heartfelt tribute to his mother it comes off corny as fuck. Bub could have brought some real soul to this with the right music and made a credible follow up to Ghosts Vivid account on the original but this is really bad.
The best track of the album is without a doubt the DJ premier-esque sounding ‘Sneakers’ where Raekwon does a GZA ‘labels’ type thing (But not as clever) with the brands of footwear he’s feeling. Then there’s ‘Live from New york’ the first single which is not amazing but stands out here. ‘Real life’ with its tripping beat and low key pianos definitely provides perfect material for Raekwon to perform at his best, even close to a Cuban Linx type track.
I always thought Raekwon was the greedy one, the one who wanted all the best beats to lay his verses upon but with the absence of RZA it seems he has picked any old cheap and nasty backdrop to lay his verses upon. The Wu are also painfully absent from this album, while the absence of Ghostface is understandable with his recent incarceration we only get mediocre appearances from Masta Killa on ‘The table’ which is still one of the better tracks and Method Man on ‘Fuck them’ . So while it’s a test to see if an emcee can hold his own without a slew of cameos cluttering up an album its something Raekwon could pulled off if only he had at least had good production to go with it.