Raekwon – Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang
March is a pretty stacked month when it comes to hip-hop releases I’m looking forward to hearing. I’m hyped for seven releases this month – Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers, Pac Div’s Mania!, Curren$y’s Muscle Car Chronicles, Raekwon’s Shaolin vs Wu-Tang, Travis Barker’s Give the Drummer Some (which isn’t exactly hip-hop but most of the guests are rappers so I’m counting it), CunninLynguists’ Oneirology, and Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers. I’m planning on reviewing all seven of these albums. The second is Raekwon’s Shaolin vs Wu-Tang.
Raekwon took a bit of a risk by choosing not to include any contributions from the RZA on Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang. While none of the producers on this album precisely replicate what the RZA is able to do, for the most part this still sounds how a solo Wu-Tang album should sound. There are a couple duds production-wise though, such as “Rock N Roll” which inexplicably uses autotune on the chorus. A song like that really doesn’t sound like a Wu-Tang song.
Overall this album has a grittier and more “raw” sound than most of 2009’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2. This includes Raekwon himself. Even though OB4CL2 generally received really good reviews one of the criticisms was that Rae sounded too laid back and even lazy on some of the tracks. That isn’t the case here; Raekwon’s rapping is really in your face.
An album as good as this one is more or less what I was expecting from Raekwon this time around. It’s not a disappointment but at the same time I really doubt I’ll be listening to this months or even weeks from now. Longtime Wu-Tang/Raekwon fans will probably enjoy this album but for everyone else it’s pretty skippable.