When Wu-Tang Clan bum rushed the Hip Hop
scene in 1993, many heads took immediate notice, setting the stage for each
member to branch out and achieve even more success through solo endeavors. The
latest of said projects, Masta Killa’s
second solo album, continues the recent string of raw releases hopefully
destined to return the Wu to its
former greatness. After much critical acclaim for No Said Date, expectations for this outing are high. Masta Killa manages to shoulder the
weight effortlessly with a phenomenal selection of the kind of gritty
production that has become the Wu’s
hallmark coupled with lyrics that are razor sharp at their best, and on point
at their worst.

 

For the second
time, MK manages to bring the entire
Clan together; but don’t expect
another posse cut a la “9 Milli Bros.,” as these appearances are spread out
over three songs. The haunting violins of “Street Corner” are the perfect
setting for MK, Inspectah Deck, and The GZA
to paint vivid pictures of life in the struggle. Although I haven’t been
impressed by much of The Genius’
more recent material, you can’t front on the real life descriptiveness of “In a broke neighborhood, where the kids
often dream about a lavish life that is mostly seen on a screen / but some
dreams are quickly cut short due to gang violence, and loud guns that kept
witnesses in deep silence.
” On the other hand, Masta Killa more than proves he can hold it down for delf with
joints like “Pass The Bone (remix),” where he breaks from the monotone norm
with an energetic flow over a beautifully soulful track courtesy of Sor. The Al Green chop just fits so perfectly that you almost don’t realize
that MK’s just refreshing the
original RZA and GZA verses until he’s already given you
a contact off his blunted lyricism.

Not every
joint is as superb as the aforementioned tracks, however – but for the most
part these lulls in the action do little to bring the overall feel and sound of
this project down. Case in point, “Older Gods pt.2” is probably the most
generic Pete Rock I’ve personally ever
heard, with its incredibly repetitive horn sample. Yet MK still manages to spit thought provoking knowledge like “false imprisonment, big business for
government official / address the issue, blow the whistle
“. I’ll probably
get a lot of hate for this, but I also wasn’t particularly feeling “Then
and Now,” a song featuring three children and yet another variation of an
already familiar hook. The end result comes off a little gimmicky in my opinion
and will probably become very tired after only a few listens.

Those
expecting an album exclusively composed of gritty New York street chronicles will be
surprised that there are three joints dedicated to the opposite sex. The
strongest of these is “Nehanda and Cream,” a tale of two sisters backed by up
and comer Bronze Nazareth’s smooth production and a
stellar display of Masta Killa’s
monotone style. Aside from a few diluted tracks production wise, Masta Killa has crafted a very strong
sophomore album that is definitely a worthy follow up to 2004’s No Said Date. The stage is set. Wu-Tang forever.