Raekwon – “Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang” review

After making a near perfect comeback just 2 years prior with Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon is returning with his 5th full-length album which was actually supposed to be the Clan’s 6th group album & it was to contain no production input from their de facto leader RZA. However, there is no RZA production on here as originally promised. On the song “Every Soldier in the Hood”, Rae hooks up with fellow Clan member Method Man are making a dedication to all the real ones over a eerie beat from Oh No of Gangrene (originally thought to be produced by Erick Sermon of EPMD). The next song “Silver Rings” sees Rae & his longtime partner in rhyme Ghostface Killah getting braggadocious & the beat from Cilvaringz (get it? “Silver Rings”, Cilvaringz?) on here has these ominous sounding strings throughout. On the next song “Chop Chop Ninja”, Rae & Inspectah Deck talk about their encounter with a ninja & the kung fu sample throughout was an awesome touch. The album’s lead single “Butter Knives” is a vintage Wu track in every aspect & while “Rich & Black” with Nas isn’t a “Verbal Intercourse 2” by any means, it was still great to hear the 2 on the same song again. The song “Last Trip to Scotland” has a suspenseful beat & there’s a surprising albeit solid guest verse from G-Unit member Lloyd Banks that ends the track. The song “Ferry Boat Killaz” is probably my favorite song off the entire album, mainly because of how purely sinister it sounds from Rae’s angry street bars to the production from The Alchemist (who makes up the other half of Gangrene by the way). The next song “Dart School” has a beat from Mathematics that heavily samples Curtis Mayfield throughout & I love how Rae flows over it. The song “The Scroll” sees Rae talking about his group & the beat from Evidence of Dilated Peoples has this haunting keys sample throughout as well as some hard ass drums. The standard edition closer “Masters of Our Fate” has an epic beat & while I do enjoy the verse Rae spits on here, it’s actually the guest verse from The Roots’ lead MC Black Thought unsurprisingly takes the spotlight. The 2 iTunes bonus tracks “Wu Crime” with GZA & Killah Priest as well as “Your World & My World” with Havoc of Mobb Deep really should’ve been included onto to actual standard edition in my opinion, because both of those tracks are just as hard as most of the tracks on the standard edition. Personally, this album is Rae’s best album not titled Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… (including it’s sequel as well). The beat selections are on point & Rae sounds almost as focused & aggressive as he was on his previous album

Score: 4/5

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