Cappadonna – “The Yin & The Yang” review

After starting off his solo career with the underrated The Pillage, Wu-Tang Clan member Cappadonna is finally delivering a sophomore effort. The album starts off with “The Grits”, which has some triumphant horns along with some aggressive verses from both Cappa & the song’s producer Agallah. The next song “Super Model” sees Cappa talking about groupies over some hard hitting boom bap drums & a guitar sample. The Ghostface Killah hook on here is just ok, though. The track “War Rats” has a confrontative vibe throughout, but the beat’s bland & the hook is just redundant. The song “Love’s the Message” with Raekwon is a nice club track & while the disco-influenced production on here was surprising, it fits with the vibe very well. While the song “We Know” has a decent beat from Jermaine Dupri, the rapidly delivered verse from Da Brat about halfway through the track makes up for it. To be completely honest, this was just ok. Cappa himself isn’t really the issue, but rather there’s a lot more features than there should’ve been & the production on most of these tracks were just weak

Score: 2.5/5

Raekwon – “Lost Jewlry” review

To increase anticipation for his 6th album F.I.L.A. (Fly International Luxurious Art), Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon is delivering his 2nd EP to prelude it. The track “Young Boy Penalties” is basically Rae asking the youth when will they stop committing crimes & the way Scram Jones uses the soul sample was just alright to me. The song “Hold You Down” is a love song & not only do I enjoy the Faith Evans hook on here, but the production from Buckwild also fits with the vibe very well. The track “For the Listeners” is a dedication to all of those who’re living it up, but the synthesizer during the verses is really the only characteristic of the beat that I can describe. The next song “Die Tonight” talks about going out to kill someone but eventually sparring him & I actually found the spoken dialogue at the very beginning about a “Cookie Monster hoe” was pretty funny. The song “New Day” has a better incorporated soul sample & the verses from Rae & Freddie Gibbs about murdering you & coke respectively are just hard! The closer “Whatever, Whenever” talks about keeping his gun on him in the hood as well as reminiscing about living there over a symphonic beat. Aside from feeling like the production could’ve been a tad bit better, this is a solid prelude to F.I.L.A. (Fly International Luxurious Art)

Score: 3/5

GZA – “Legend of the Liquid Sword” review

Just 3 years after his last album Beneath the Surface, Wu-Tang Clan member GZA is now delivering his 4th full-length album. The album opens up with the track “AutoBio”, where GZA is reminiscing about late 70’s Bronx block parties over some quiet piano keys as well as a loud orchestral string section. The track “Silent” with Ghostface Killah & Streetlife gets braggadocious about their stage performances as well as their talents & the instrumental from Bink! has an nice eerie soul sample throughout. The song “Stay in Line” is a message to wack rappers & the beat from Arabian Knight predominantly has this mellow guitar loop throughout but the war-inducing horns during Santigold’s hook are fantastic. While I can appreciate the song “Fam (Members Only)” with RZA & Masta Killa being about what the Clan strives for as well as the haunting production from Mathematics, the fact that it’s censored was really annoying. The title track talks about rappers who’re only in it for the paper & I love how Jaz-O incorporates the Quincy Jones sample into the beat. The song “Fame” cleverly name drops celebrities (similar to the tracks “Labels” & “Publicity” from his last 2 albums) over some keys as well as some boom bap drums. The song “Highway Robbery” is a tribute to the classic Big Daddy Kane track “Ain’t No Half-Steppin'” & I love how the beat turns a relaxing Michael Jackson sample into something grimy. The song “Luminal” is a vivid story about ruthless killer who brutalizes a peaceful town over an ominous beat from DJ Muggs. The track “Sparring Minds” with Inspectah Deck talk about how dangerous the Clan is over a guitar loop. The album then closes out with “Uncut Material”, where The Genius is giving the self explanatory & the instrumental he makes for this track has an orchestral feeling to it. To sum it all up: The lyricism is on point like always, but I feel like the production could’ve been much better

Score: 3.5/5

Ghostface Killah – “More Fish” review

Almost 9 months after dropping a modern classic with FishScale, Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah is closing out 2006 by delivering a follow-up to it. Even though the fittingly titled opener “Ghost Is Back” has the exact same instrumental as “Juice (Know the Ledge)” by Eric B. & Rakim, he doesn’t sound bad over it at all. However, it makes me wanna go back & listen to the original. The song “Street Opera” has a soulful beat from Fantom of the Beat & I really love the chemistry between Ghost & his son Sun God on here. The track “Block Rock” has a grimy beat from Madlib & it goes PERFECTLY with the street raps that Ghost’s delivers throughout the song. The song “Blue Armor” with Ghost’s Wu Block cohort Sheek Louch sees the 2 getting hardcore over a rock-tinged beat & the penultimate track “Alex (Stolen Script)” vividly tells a story about a movie script being stolen over a funky beat from his DOOMSTARKS cohort MF DOOM. The album then closes out with a follow-up to “Back Like That” from Ghost’s last album & I like the opening verse from Kanye West. Especially when he starts it off by twisting up Ghost’s verse from “Ice Cream” by Raekwon. Honestly, this is a decent leftovers/b-sides album. A couple tracks on here were pulled from other releases that came out just before this did & while I understand that Ghost was trying to get his entire Theodore Unit side-crew out there, but I feel like the features from them were kinda all over the place

Score: 2.5/5

Sunz of Man – “The Last Shall Be 1st” review

The Sunz of Man are a Wu-Tang Killa Bee subgroup & this is their full-length debut. The song “Natural High” talks about how their music moves the listener’s bodies & the Al Green sample on here is just as dope. The song “Flaming Swords” has a violent tone lyrically & delivery wise & the ominous keys that True Master incorporates into his production are PERFECT! The song “Illusions” with Wu-Tang Clan member Masta Killa talks about how the game ain’t the same & not only do I like the Donny Hathaway sample that you’ll hear, but I really love the way 4th Disciple incorporates the Bob Marley sample that pops in during the last couple minutes. The song “Shining Star” heavily samples the Earth, Wind & Fire song with the same name & the 2 Ol’ Dirty Bastard verses that comes up in the beginning along with the one near the end are a nice touch as well. The song “Tribulations” is on some life shit & not only do I like the guitar throughout RZA’s production, but the sped-up vocal sample that he uses throughout the track is classic RZA. The track “The Plan” is the 5th & final song on the entire album to have a verse or verses from Killah Priest & the group are talking about breaking plans over a perfectly Ann Peebles sample. The song “Inmates to the Fire” menacingly talks about how the group will fuck up wack MCs tonight over an eerie RZA beat. The song “Can I See You?” with Killarmy member Kinetic 9 is about how they stay camouflaged & the keys that RZA throws in with these hard boom bap drums were pretty cool. The penultimate song “Next Up” with Method Man has a nice guitar passage throughout & I really like how everyone ends one verse & starts off another by throwing it back to the classic Juice Crew posse cut “The Symphony”. The final song “Intellectuals” with Raekwon & U-God talks about how their rhymes gains everyone’s attention & I guess the sporadic keys throughout aren’t bad at all. Although I wish Killah Priest appeared on more than just 5 songs, I’d say this is Sunz of Man’s best album as well as one of my favorite albums to come from a Wu-Tang affiliated MC/singer or group. The production is vintage Wu for the most part & the group sounds really ambitious

Score: 4/5

La the Darkman – “Heist of the Century” review

La the Darkman is a Wu-Tang Clan affiliate & this is his only album to date. The song “City Lights” is a vivid story about a man who ends up being killed due to his criminal ways over a haunting beat from Havoc. The title track with Killa Sin sees them robbing the government & I really love how they trade back & forth with each other throughout & the keyboard sample DJ Muggs uses is so on point. Despite the 4th Disciple produced “5th Disciple” having a beat that is VERY similar to the Wu’s debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) & La flowing really well over it, it’s only a minute long. The track “Spring Water” with Raekwon has a kinda funky beat & the 2 compliment each other just as well as La & Sin did on the title track. The soul sample hook on here is really awesome, too. The song “Figaro Chain” is another Havoc produced-joint but this time, we’re getting a short verse from him at the beginning of the track. The track “Polluted Wisdom” is a story about a woman named Gina & while it’s the only track on the entire album to be entirely produced by the Wu-Tang Clan’s de facto leader RZA, it does not disappoint. Especially with the strings. The track “Element of Surprise” with Masta Killa & U-God vividly talks about 3 different people who individually end up being sentenced to prison, murdered & being spared. The production has a dramatic vibe to it & it fits the 3 stories really well. The track “Wu-Blood Kin” with 12 O’Clock has a hard hitting beat & while I really love how aggressive 12 O’Clock sounds on here as well as the hook from Ghostface Killah, I kinda wish Ghost would’ve added a 3rd verse on here. To be honest, this is one of my favorite albums to ever come from a Wu-Tang affiliate. Despite it being a little too long, the production is banging & La sound hungry as Hell on here

Score: 4/5

KiD CuDi – “Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin'” review

Just a year after embarrassingly experimenting with grunge & punk througohut his previous album Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven as well as checking himself into rehab for about a month due to suicidal urges, KiD CuDi is now returning with his 5th full-length album & I’ve been actually really looking forward to it considering all the teaser tracks that’ve been released for it. The album starts off with “Frequency”, where CuDi’s encouraging the listener to widen their views & the whole song sonically brings me back to his first 2 albums. The track “Swim in the Light” touches base on his depression over an electronic beat & I think it’s a lot more tolerable that the vast majority of what you’ll hear on his last album. The track “By Design” sees CuDi getting with OutKast member AndrĂ© 3000 & not only do I like the chemistry the 2 display on here, but the piano chords are pretty dope too. The track “All In” sees CuDi trying to wanting to resolve a failing relationship & not only do I love his vocals on here, but I was actually surprised at how solid Mike WiLL Made-It’s production on here was. The track “Rose Golden” sees CuDi getting with Willow Smith out of all people to basically tell us to believe in yourself & those who support you over a symphonic beat. The track “Baptized in Fire” talks about the people who’re after him for his “precious energy” & I was actually really disappointed that Travi$ Scott only did the hook on here. Considering the fact that Travi$ idolizes CuDi, I really wanted to hear them contemplate each other just like they did on “through the late night” off of Travi$’ new album Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. It’s certainly not a bad track at all, but I personally wanted a lot more out of it. The track “Flight at First Sight / Advanced” is a love song that starts off with CuDi singing over a spacey beat from Pharrell but then there’s a crazy beat change about a minute & a half in that makes me wanna throw a party & what I really love about the verse CuDi spits right after this beat change is how charismatic he sounds while delivering it. The track “Wounds” talks about him overcoming his depression over a trippy ass beat & I feel like this’ll make anyone who’s down on their luck feel a bit better about themselves. While I find the content on the tracks “Mature Nature” & “Kitchen” to get boring after a while, his singing & the production on both tracks are catchy as Hell. I wasn’t really feeling the vocals on the track “Cosmic Warrior” but simultaneously, I absolutely love the spacey production from CuDi’s WZRD cohort Dot da Genius on here. The next track “The Guide” is telling us about an encounter with this freak over an ominous futuristic sounding beat & as always, the guest verse from AndrĂ© 3000 on here steals the whole show. The album closes out with “Surfin'”, where CuDi’s talking about making his own waves of success & Pharrell’s upbeat production on here really does play a huge part in this song getting me in a good mood as well as making this my favorite song off the whole album. Honestly, this album was exactly what I expected. The production’s on point & to hear CuDi redeeming himself after dropping a lot of shitty music within the past few years just puts a smile on my face. Hopefully, CuDi keeps making music like this because I consider this is a strong return to form for him
Score: 4/5