Let’s get one thing straight – if you write off Ice Water
as another St. Lunatics or P$C (read: shitty
groups being put on by their superstar friend) – you’d be quite mistaken. After
being featured on Raekwon’s Lex Diamond Story some
years back, the group has finally debuted with Polluted Water – and
what a supporting cast! Busta Rhymes, Method Man,
Three 6 Mafia, Pimp C
and others show up for the affair, and let’s not
forget Raekwon himself, who appears on seven of the album’s
seventeen tracks.

The album starts off with “Animal,” which won’t awe you in terms of lyricism, but does
a great job of setting the tone for the Shaolin
quartet’s debut. Next is one of the album’s best cuts in “Do It Big,”
which features Raekwon and Busta Rhymes. What
Busta is doing rapping about stacking paper and drugs is
anyone’s guess, but the Flipmode General
sounds great on the track, as does Raekwon. Don’t count Icewater
out though, as the rookies show that they can play with the vets.

“Actin’ Fly”
is the first misstep on the album. The song, which is about hollerin’ at
stuck up women, is full of clichés and sticks out like a sore thumb. Things get
back on track with Ice Water, which is just brimming with energy: “I
saw the light and grabbed it, it became me/Who woulda thought it woulda been a
mic that changed me/Blood can sometime be seen as a blessin’/Teach the youth a
lesson, this what happen when you shootin’ weapons/Swallow the fire, slowly
watch the demons expire/They plottin’ my death, I heard through the wire/Should
I react first/Or should I be a man and take a stand/Against a plan that’s got
us blacks cursed”

The appropriately-titled “Hip Hop” tribute has Ice Water and Raekwon
paying homage to New York’s Hip Hop pioneers. “Love Don’t Cost A Thing”
is an irritating track with just an awful hook, though Method
verse is certainly worth listening to. Some of the best
production on the album comes on the atmospheric and moody “Click Click,”
which caters to Raekwon and Ice Water’s crime
stories perfectly.

So what is there to say about Ice Water? The album’s dope,
there’s no doubt about that. But how much can you really attribute to Ice
themselves? The crew is often outshined by their guests, but
that’s the risk you run when you have legends like Busta, Method Man
and Raekwon rapping alongside you. The group is also heavily
aided by generally solid production, which makes it easier to ignore when
things go a little dull.

Raekwon clearly has great influence on the group, because Ice
sounds best rapping alongside him. Sometimes when they go it
solo, things get a little unfocused, such as the oh-so-generic “Gangsta. Since the
title of the album has “Raekwon Presents” in it, this isn’t
too serious of a concern, but it does raise the question – what makes this a
solid album? Is it the group, or the guests and the production? Regardless,
dope is dope; if you pick this one up, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.