Raekwon – “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” review

With 4 of the 10 Wu-Tang Clan members already having solo efforts (2 of them being well-known classics while the other 2 are the only solo releases before the group’s debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was released), Raekwon is the next swordsman at bat to shine on his own. The album features every single member of the Clan except for Ol’ Dirty Bastard (most notably Ghostface Killah on 12 of the 17 tracks & the group’s leader RZA producing every single one of them) as well as Nas earning the right to be the very first non Wu-affiliate to ever appear on a Wu-related album by providing a flawless verse on the perfectly titled Verbal Intercourse. Anyway, this is commonly hailed as one of the greatest hip hop albums ever made & there are pinpoints to why it is labeled as such. It’s an extremely well crafted album with vividly painted, rawly delivered mafioso lyricism & production so atmospheric that makes me feel like I’m listening to a movie rather than a studio album from an MC. Think Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) mixed with The Godfather or Scarface. To me, that’s the whole album in a nutshell

Score: 5/5

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3 6 Mafia – “Mystic Stylez” review

The 3 6 Mafia were at the time a Memphis hip hop sextet composed of rappers/producers DJ Paul & Juicy J (who solely produced the albums in it’s entirety) as well as Paul’s half-brother Lord Infamous, Koopsta Knicca, Gangsta Boo & Crunchy Black. Although they had dropped a mixtape entitled Smoked Out, Loced Out just a year prior, this is their full-length debut under Paul & Juicy’s own label Prophet Entertainment (which would later become known as Hypnotize Minds). The track “Break da Law (’95)” is a DJ Paul solo cut & Paul’s pretty much talking gangsta shit over an ominous beat. The track “Da Summa” sees everyone but Gangsta Boo & Crunchy Black talking about living summer up & the production on here is so smooth. The track “In Da Game” is basically about dope & everyone on this track doesn’t sound gimmicky at all. The haunting “Fuckin’ wit dis Click” is basically Satanic & everyone on here delivers their verses so confrontationally, that you might think that they’re dead serious. The track “Tear Da Club Up” by the Tear Da Club Up Thugs is self explanatory because the trio is talking about murdering people at the club. The album closes out with “Porno Movie” which is eerie & raunchy at the same time. To me, this is their true introduction to hip hop. Everyone sounds completely different from one another & the dark atmospheric production makes it all sound like a horror movie. Some may only know Juicy for his recent solo work, but this is how I’ll always remember him because he helped putting Memphis hip hop on the map big time with this masterpiece

Score: 5/5

Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version” review

Released 4 months after fellow Wu-Tang Clan member Method Man’s solo debut Tical, the Ol’ Dirty Bastard is next in line to eat & he’s having The Abbot producing a bulk of it as he did on Meth’s solo debut. The production on here is still pretty grimy but on the rhyming side of things, it’s a not like any other hip hop album you’ve ever heard. Dirt’s delivery is unorthodox from being hardcore like on the self/True Master produced Brooklyn Zoo to actually singing like on the track Drunk Game (Sweet Sugar Pie). There are even points throughout the album where he’s off beat & while that may sound like it’s off the bat wack, Dirt’s erratic personality makes it surprisingly entertaining. His lyrics are pretty vulgar too but again, his craziness makes it hilarious. The “I drop science like girls be dropping babies” line on Brooklyn Zoo always puts a smile on my face whenever I hear it & I find the beat on this track to be perfect to play during a b-boy competition. The album also features a few well known Wu cuts such as the catchy piano-looped Shimmy Shimmy Ya as well as the Method Man/Raekwon assisted Raw Hide which sounds like a vintage Wu-Tang track. It does have it’s minor flaws, though. Namely me wishing that Ol’ Dirty rapped more on Goin’ Down as well as him reprising the first half of one of the previous tracks on here Damage for the first verse on the Ghostface featured Brooklyn Zoo II (Tiger Crane). I mean I like the rest of the track, but I’m complaining about the Damage reprise because I just don’t find it as haunting as it sounded when he did it with GZA on the original track. Aside from those minor issues, this album is solidified evidence that there was no father to Dirt’s style

Score: 4.5/5

Death – “Symbolic” review

Although they’ve always had one of the most consistent discographies in all of metal, Orlando death metal band Death shows us how death metal should be played with their 6th full-length album over here. I mean they’ve dropped death metal classics before such as their first 2 albums Screaming Bloody Gore & Leprosy but this is them at their most focused, technical, progressive & fully realized hour. The guitar riffs are immensely catchy, the drumming is their punchiest, Chuck Schuldiner’s vocals are noticeably less guttural than they were on the band’s previous albums but they’re still being aggressively delivered & the songwriting is their most intriguing like with the title track, 0 Tolerance & Empty Words for examples. In my eyes, this is a truly flawless death metal masterpiece as well as the main reason why I consider Death to be the greatest death metal band of all-time

Score: 5/5

Brotha Lynch Hung – “Season of da Siccness” review

After arriving on the scene just 2 years prior with his 1st EP 24 Deep, Sacramento spitter Brotha Lynch Hung is hitting us with his full-length debut. Just like 24 Deep, Hung entirely produced the album on his own & it is yet another fantastic but better blend of horrorcore & g-funk. The album really starts off the track “Siccmade”, where Lynch compares himself to Jeffrey Dahmer throughout the whole song & the production is perfect to cruise down the block to. The track “Return of da Baby Killa” is conceptually Brotha Lynch teaming up with his half-brother Sicx to talk about killing kids & eating their corpses. This is honestly my least favorite track on the entire album because while he does shock value well on here as well as every other track, the whole concept of this entire track honestly makes me uncomfortable. The track “Locc 2 da Brain” sees Lynch with 4 of his friends talking about how crazy each one of them are & this track would actually see controversy a year after this album’s release due to a suicide being allegedly influenced by this track. The track “Liquor Sicc” is pretty much a dedication to his cousin & you can hear the frustration in his voice throughout the whole song. The track “Datz Real Gangsta” is a pretty simple West Coast gangsta rap track about what real G’s do & “Deep Down” is actually a pretty sincere track about hoping to succeed in a music career. As much as I love 24 Deep, I really think Brotha Lynch solidifies himself as one of the most prominent faces of the horrorcore subgenre with this album. If you want g-funk but with a disgusting lyrical twist, then DEFINITELY check this album out

Score: 4.5/5

Method Man – “Tical” review

A year has passed since the almighty Wu-Tang Clan released their debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) under Loud Records & while the only 2 solo releases prior to that were GZA’s debut album Words from the Genius & RZA’s 1st EP Ooh I Love You Rakeem under Cold Chillin’ Records & Tommy Boy Entertainment respectively, the Method Man is the very 1st swordsman to get a solo effort after the release of the Clan’s debut & he has enlisted the help of the RZA to produce it in it’s entirety as well as Def Jam Recordings to distribute it. The album kicks off with the title track, which start with a Kung Fu film sample & Meth giving us a proper introduction of what to expect on the album over a truly sinister beat. The track Bring of Pain has a nice Jerry Butler sample & lyrically, it’s a great example of hardcore hip hop. The track All I Need is a smoothly delivered sincere love song, but the Razor Sharp Mix with Mary J. Blige that came out a few months after this album’s release is so much better & it’s often considered to be the greatest hip hop love song of all-time. The track Meth vs. Chef sees Meth in a rap battle with fellow Wu-Tang member Raekwon & if I had to choose a winner of the battle, I’d say Rae because I truly believe Rae’s at his angriest on this track. I mean Meth sounds frustrated too, but Rae sounds like he’s channeling every single bit of anger he has in him in his delivery. The track Release Yo ‘Delf has some triumphant horns throughout as well as a nice interpolation of the classic Gloria Gaynor track I Will Survive from Blue Raspberry on the hook. The first verse on this track is so unusually structured, but it’s so entertaining at the same time & there’s actually a line near the end of the 2nd verse on the purely evil sounding Sub Crazy that’s kinda similar. As a full album, RZA’s grimy production suits Meth’s voice/deliveries/flows perfectly & it was a fantastic way to kick off what a lot of people call “the classic Wu-Tang solo album era” as well as the solo career of one of the Clan’s most notable members

Score: 4.5/5

Flatlinerz – “U.S.A. (Under Satan’s Authority)” review

The Flatlinerz are a Brooklyn hardcore hip hop trio composed of Redrum, Gravedigger & Tempest and this is their only full-length album to date as well as their only release under Def Jam Recordings (which was co-founded by Russell Simmons who actually happens to be Redrum’s uncle). Just imagine a Satanic mix of Onyx & Das EFX. Examples of this mix include “Flatliner”, “Sonic Boom”, “Takin’ ‘Em Underground”, “Rivaz of Red”, the self-explanatory 2nd single for the album “Satanic Verses” & the album’s final single “Live Evil”. Although some understandably knock on this album for being “generic”, I still think the group should still be acknowledged for popularizing the entire horrorcore subgenre along with the the Gravediggaz. It should also be noted that Rockwilder (who would later go on to produce the classic Method Man & Redman track “Da Rockwilder”) made his recording debut on here by producing roughly half the tracks & he even spits the last verse on the track “Graveyard Nightmare”. That’s pretty cool if you ask me

Score: 3.5/5