Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: 8 Diagrams, album review, Freddie Gibbs, Ghostface Killah, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Meth Ghost & Rae, Method Man, Michael Jackson, Raekwon, Tracy Morgan, Wu-Massacre, Wu-Tang Clan
PREVIEW: VISIT Meth, Ghost & Rae’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts
Back together for the first time since 2007’s 8 Diagrams, Wu-Tang Clan‘s Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon haven’t lost a beat. Recording their self-proclaimed “fan album,” Meth, Ghost & Rae end up turning back the clock to gangsta rap’s 1990s heyday, as they sling smooth, yet violent rhymes over fresh backing tracks. Needless to say, the results could surprise the current rap game.
In today’s hip-hop scene, gangsta rap has mostly disappeared. There have been fleeting moments when its return seemed possible– mostly releases from Wu-Tang members (mainly these three) and various mixtapes (see either of Freddie Gibbs‘s 2009 efforts). But for the most part, that segment of the genre has given way to the more radio-oriented Kanye Wests and Lil’ Waynes of the world. As you may have guessed, Wu-Massacre meets none of these popular conceptions.
Unlike its many Wu-Tang related predecessors, the album features little production value, and few big name contributors. Yet, for 30 minutes, the three artists manage to capture your utmost attention as gun talk and their conversational rap style take the focus off of wordplay and rhyming, and key in on the superior instrumental arrangements in the backdrop. Tracks like “Mef Vs. Chef 2” and “Gunshowers,” which feature high-caliber contributions from all three artists, nearly cede the floor to these diverse and 90s inspired beats that kick with all the energy they did 15 years ago.
Though the music quality they achieved on what they’ve referred to as “no budget” is surprisingly good, what’s not surprising here is the chemistry Meth, Ghost & Rae have. If nothing else that factor alone carries Wu-Massacre, as the three veterans trade barbs effortlessly, and divide their time up as equally as you can with this type of endeavor. From the Michael Jackson-sampling “Our Dreams” (takes from “We’re Almost There”), to “Criminology 2.5,” each and every track is a hard-hitting buffet of quality rhymes, evenly distributed from one artist to the next.
Of course, Wu-Massacre isn’t perfect either. Starting with Tracy Morgan‘s “How To Pay Rent Skit,” and continuing to the end, something does seem a little less locked-in than the earlier portions. Non Wu-Tang contributors on the album fail to do much but emulate their style to a fault as well. And of course, the album is just 30 minutes long.
But when taken for what it is– a fan album– it is an impressive collection. Rushed to completion, and barely edited in the usual manner, Wu-Massacre still gives us eight venomously strong tracks, followed by four more pretty good ones. If you ask me, I’d count that as pretty successful.