Masta Killa – “Loyalty is Royalty” review

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It’s been 6 long years in the making & just when it seems like it would never come out, Wu-Tang Clan member Masta Killa is finally releasing his long-awaited 4th full-length album. After a 41 second intro, we are treated to the album’s first song “Return of thee Masta Kill”. While the instrumental from Blahzay Blahzay producer/DJ PF Cuttin’ has this twangy guitar with some boom bap drums & I’m fine with the verses from both Masta Killa & fellow Wu member Cappadonna during the beginning & end respectively, bu Young Dudas’ was just average to me. The self-titled track is basically Jamel Irief romantically talking to his lady & the beautifully smooth 9th Wonder instrumental compliments the tone very well. The track “Therapy” with Method Man & Redman insightfully talks about music being therapeutic to them over a piano loop & some boom bap drums & while the song “OGs Told Me” has a great Cortex sample throughout provided by the producer Dame Grease, my biggest issue with it is that it feels more like a Boy Backs song given the fact that he dominates almost every verse except for Masta Killa’s that comes in halfway through. After a 98 second spoken word piece from the Clan’s de facto leader RZA over somber piano chords, we are then treated into the next track “Trouble”. Here, Jamel’s vividly rapping about how his criminal days began over a soulful instrumental. Then after a 1 minute skit, we are then treated to the next song “Down with Me”. For this joint, Masta Killa gets with the late Sean Price to brag about their rapping prowesses over a boom bap instrumental with some bass. The track “Tiger & the Mantice” with GZA & Inspectah Deck sounds like a vintage Wu banger from the Kung Fu film sample to the battle rap lyricism from all 3 MCs. The song “Real People” has a murderous tone lyrically & the guest verses from Prodigy & KXNG CROOKED were absolutely perfect. The track “Flex with Me” charismatically spits about the lavish life over some jungle-ish drums & the Chanel Sosa hook is pretty catchy as well. The song “Calculated” has this wailing down-tuned synthesizer throughout & despite Jamel’s verse at the end sounding ambitious, I wasn’t feeling the 2 verses from Ra Stacks & Knick Gunz that precede it all that much. Also, the hook sounds like the type of hook I’d hear on the radio. Before we get a 2 minute outro to close out the album, we get 2 last songs with “Noodles, Pts. 1 & 2”. Both of these songs should’ve been combined into 1 entire track rather than being split in 2 parts, I do like the orchestral mafioso vibe of the first half along with the seductive vibe of the other half. Personally, I think this album was worth the long wait. Sure some of the tracks have already been released for a period of time & I could’ve done without a couple of the features, but it’s well produced & Masta Killa continues to prove himself as one of the Clan’s most underrated swordsmen over time

Score: 3.5/5

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