This album came along at a time when the Wu had so much energy as unit they could have released an album of farting and it would have gone gold. Raekwon had just released ‘Cuban linx..’ and this album rode the tail end of that wave.
What makes this album worthy of a ten is not only the introspective rhymes from one of the Clans cleverest lyricists but the dark almost apocalyptic production which the RZA built around the verses once he had laid them down. Take ‘4th Chamber’ for instance, the high strings built around a grinding horn loop is perfection for GZA to be joined by Killah Priest, Ghostface Killah and a flow from RZA that even though sounds stifled and awkward contains some ill lyrics. ‘Dual of the Iron Mic’ is even more proof that the Clan are at their peak verses from Masta Killa and Inspektah Deck but its Gza who cannot be outshined.
His vivid depiction of a scenario on ‘Gold’ is one of the greatest I have heard in hip hop as he begins "Under the subway waiting for the train to make noise/ so I can blast a nigga and his boys/for what?/ he pushed up on the block and made the dope sales drop" and "Snake got smoked on the set like Brandon lee/ blown out the frame like Pan-am flight 103." He goes even further as Deck joins him on ‘Cold world’ and Method man goes toe to toe with him on ‘Shadowboxin’. We cannot forget the track ‘Labels’ as GZA takes the names of the record labels out there, major and independent and makes them into one long blazing verse, to the uneducated they wouldn’t know what the fuck was going on.
‘Killa hills 10304’ and ‘Investigative reports’ start to wind the album down, the latter carrying on where ‘Cuban Linx’ left us on the Wu-Gambino vibe. ‘I got ya back’ is like some classic shit from 1986 with its ruggedness and old school attack from the man they call the Genius, and now you know why with a line like "What is the meaning of CRIME? Is it Criminals Robbing Innocent Muthafuckers Every time?"
Each track is sewn together to flow well into the next, something that is not made easy, but it has an order and it works. The interwoven samples from Kung-fu flicks aid this flow and add that darkness and mystery to the album. The GZA is one of the best emcees in hip-hop period, to follow up a classic like this would be near impossible.