RZA – “Bobby Digital & the Pit of Snakes” review

This is the 5th EP from New York emcee, producer, actor & filmmaker RZA. Widely known as the de facto leader of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan, he was actually the 2nd & last person of the group following GZA to come out with a solo effort before their full-length debut Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers by dropping his debut EP Ooh I Love You Rakeem under Tommy Boy Records just 5 months after The Genius put out his full-length debut Words from the Genius under Cold Chillin’ Records. The Abbott eventually put out his own debut album Bobby Digital in Stereo in the fall of ‘98, which I personally think gets criminally overlooked because people were expecting The Cure & I think it’s safe to say it’s never seeing the light of day at this point. Digital Bullet was a worthy sequel too, but I can’t say the same for Birth of a Prince or Digi Snax. He returned from a 14 year hiatus back in March to drop the DJ Scratch-produced Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu Theater & I still maintain that it’s RZA’s best solo effort since Digital Bullet even though the overall reception was mixed, so I was definitely curious to hear how Bobby Digital & the Pit of Snakes would play out especially since he’s back on the boards for the whole thing also.

“Under the Sun” is a guitar-driven opener talking about how we are all 1 whereas “Trouble Shooting” mixes boom bap & rock to confess that trouble keeps finding him. “Something Going On” has a grander tone to the instrumental as RZA talks about not wanting to die alone just before “We Push” works in some pianos to remind everyone that there’s more to the story.

The track “Cowards” brings back the rock influences which is nice except that the singing throughout is absolutely God awful while the penultimate song “Fight to Win” shoots for a more solemn aesthetic striving for victory. And prior to the “Live Your Own Rhythm” outro, “Celebrate Life” finishes the EP with a colorful ballad about commemorating our time here on planet Earth.

Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu Theater might be a tad bit better in my personal opinion, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Bobby Digital & the Pit of Snakes for what it is because RZA really did drop 2 great EPs back-to-back. The whole concept of him figuring out the nature of his reality & himself is well thought out with him continuing to evolve as a producer & actually suiting him compared to the Wu sounding like they didn’t fit over a majority of the beats that he cooked up for the Clan’s last 2 group albums 8 Diagrams & A Better Tomorrow.

Score: 3.5/5

Method Man – “The Meth Lab 3: The Rehab” review

This is the 7th full-length album from Staten Island’s very own Method Man. Coming up as a member of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan, he would go on to have a very successful career of his own on top of that whether it be albums like the solo dolo Tical & the Redman-assisted Blackout! or appearing in movies like How High or shows such as Power. He’s already dropped the first 2 installments of The Meth Lab trilogy to mediocre reception & is already closing it out by dropping The Rehab.

“Stop Crying” with Cappadonna is a soulful opener encouraging that there’s no room for bitching in this game whereas “Butterfly Effect” with RJ Payne finds the 2 over some airy boom bap production talking about being in the public eye. Hanz On tags along for the rock-tinged “Black Ops” taking shots at those who thinks they can be a music critic just before the grimy “Guillotine” produced by Rockwilder reminds everyone how raw Meth is with the lyrics.

Meanwhile on “Live from the Meth Lab”, we have Redman & KRS-One accompanying Meth over some dusty drums declaring themselves as the ones leading into Jadakiss as well as Eddie I & 5th Pxwer coming into the picture for “Switch Sides” talking about they can’t be around those who change up over a crooning vocal sample. 5th Pxwer sticks around for the Bollywood-influenced “Act Up” laced by Erick Sermon telling everyone to move back from them, but then “Training Day” takes a more morbid route thanks to the homie Blizzard welcoming listeners to such.

“King of New York” with Carlton Fisk & Chunk Bizza finds the trio on top of an eerie instrumental advising no one wants trouble with them while the song “Find God” with Intell incorporates some more rap rock production talking about either becoming a born again Christian or grinding hard. The penultimate track “The Last 2 Minutes” is a boom bap banger with a haunting sample saying he’ll give you the world & “K.A.S.E.” with Carlton Fisk & Hanz On ends the album with some social commentary over some more traditional East Coast production.

I didn’t go into this album with the highest expectations given how lackluster the previous 2 installments were, but it’s probably my favorite of the trilogy albeit not by a whole lot. The features are pretty uninteresting for the most part & Meth can still rap his ass off much like the predecessors, but the production is a tad bit better.

Score: 2/5

Ghostface Killah – “Ghostface Killahs” review

7670549Ghostface Killah is a 49 year old MC that came up as a member of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan. He’s easily the most consistent member of the group with albums like Ironman, Supreme Clientele, FishScale, Apollo Kids, 12 Reasons to Die & Sour Soul just to name a few. He just dropped his Big Ghost Ltd. produced comeback The Lost Tapes about a year ago & to commemorate it, he’s teaming up with Danny Caiazzo to release his 15th album.

After the intro, we go into the first song “Me Denny & Daryl”. Where Ghost gets murderous with Method Man & Cappadonna over an instrumental with the vintage Wu-sound. The track “Burner to Burner” with Inspectah Deck & Cappa sees the 3 going at their competition over a grimy guitar lead while the song “Flex” speaks for itself over a mellow instrumental. After the “News Report” skit, the song “Conditioning” finds Ghost goes back at his competition over a flute-heavy instrumental.

The track “Fly Everything” with Shawn Wigs & Sun God of course finds the 3 boasting over a lavish instrumental while the song “Party Over Here” is a bland club banger. The song “Pistol Smoke” with Shawn Wigs of course spits that gun talk over a suspenseful beat & after the “Revolution” skit, the song “New World” gets conscious over a funky bass-line.

The track “Waffles & Ice Cream” with Cappadonna is a modern bastardization of the iconic Raekwon joint “Ice Cream” while “The Chase” with Sun God is pretty much a boring remake of “Run” off of The Pretty Toney Album. The album then closes out with “Soursop”, where Ghost links with Masta Killa & Solomon Childs to deliver a painfully trite reggae fusion.

Not sure what else to say, this is just so average on all fronts. The Wu will forever be all-time favorite group & Ghostface is defiantly the most consistent member, but the beats & the lyricism on this new album are so mediocre. However my biggest issue with this album is that it sounds rushed, as it’s only 33 minutes long. Hopefully, he’ll take his time with the next album.

Score: 2.5/5

Inspectah Deck – “Chamber #9” review


Inspectah Deck is a renown MC & producer from Staten Island, New York that came up as a member of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan. He’s delivered some of the group’s best verses ever from “Cold World” to “Triumph”, but it wasn’t until 1999 that he would make his solo debut with the underrated Uncontrolled Substance. His 2003 sophomore effort The Movement as well as his 2006 debut mixtape The Resident Patient were both solid in their own rights also but I can’t say the same for Manifesto back on 2010, Deck’s last full-length solo outing. The Rebel has since been focusing on CZARFACE with 7L & Esoteric throughout this decade but almost 5 months after the release of the CZAR’s collab album with Ghostface Killah entitled CZARFACE vs. Ghostface, we’re finally getting Rollie’s 4th full-length solo album.

It all kicks off with “Shaolin Rebel”, where Deck brags over an alluring beat. The next song “No Good” reflects on his criminal past over a luxurious beat while the track “Russell Jones” gets gutter over a perfectly grimy beat. The track “Can’t Stay Away” talks about his love for the culture over a soulful beat while the song “Na Na Na” is a mesmerizing party anthem with a hypnotic beat.

The title track boasts about his prowess with an epic beat while the song “Certified” is of course about his legacy over some strings & saxophones. The track “24K” with Cappadonna & Hellfire is filled with battle bars over a sinister beat while the song “What It Be Like” talks about the rough life in the streets over a somber beat.

The track “Game Don’t Change” is of course about drug dealing over a boom bap beat akin to the Wu’s signature sound & while I can appreciate the grinding dedication with the song “Dollar Signs”, the female vocals do get annoying after a while. The penultimate track “Who Run It?” with Hellfire & Streetlife see the 3 talking about their skills over a jazzy beat & then the album ends with “Fire”, where Deck & Trife Diesel spit just that over a boom bap beat with some plinky keys.

For a 9 year wait, it’s a pretty passable comeback. Inspectah Deck definitely proves that he’s still the best Clansmen in terms of lyricism & I can appreciate that he kept it at a respectable length in comparison to Manifesto, but the production (mostly handled by Danny Caiazzo) is just decent as is the feature choices.

Score: 3/5

Wu-Tang Clan – “Of Mics & Men” soundtrack review

The Wu-Tang Clan. What can be said now about the iconic New York hip hop outfit that hasn’t been said already? From their iconic first 2 albums Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) & Wu-Tang Forever to the countless classic solo debuts like Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… & Supreme Clientele, they’ve always been rightfully regarded as the greatest hip hop outfit of all-time. Last time we heard from them collectively in an album capacity was in 2014 with A Better Tomorrow & with a SHOWTIME documentary being recently released, they’re coming together with the help of Nas’ Mass Appeal Records to deliver the soundtrack for it.

The soundtrack kicks off with “On That Shit Again”, where Ghostface Killah & RZA sound vengeful over a piano & some drums. The next song “Seen a Lot of Things” with Ghost & Raekwon pretty much speaks for itself over a prominent electric guitar & after the “Project Kids” skit, we go into the RZA solo cut “Do the Same as My Brother Do”. Where the Abbott kicks some knowledge over a punchy yet orchestral beat. After the “Yo is you Cheo?” skit & before the “1 Rhyme” outro, the final song of the EP is the title track. Where RZA gets with Cappadonna & Masta Killa boast over some prominent drums.

As much as I loved the documentary, this was a decent soundtrack. Most of the performances are fantastic don’t get me wrong, but it sounds like the Clan could’ve fully fleshed it out.

Score: 3/5

Method Man – “The Meth Lab 2: The Lithium” review

Method Man is a 47 year old rapper known for being apart of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan. He only dropped 1 album this decade, which was The Meth Lab back in 2015. Personally, I found it to be his weakest effort yet due to the cut-rate production & packing damn near every track with features just for the sake of having features. However, he’s returning with his 6th full-length album & it serves as a sequel to that project.

After the “Pilot” intro, we go into the first song “Kill Different. Here, Meth & Raekwon talk about achieving success over a rap rock beat. The track “Eastside” with Intell & Snoop Dogg see the 3 paying tribute to their home coasts over a boom bap beat with some strings & after the “Thotti Gotti” skit, we go into the song “Grand Prix”. Where Meth compares himself to Ricky Bobby in getting money over a gloomy Dame Grease instrumental.

Then after the “Impractical Jokers Pranks” skit, the song “Drunk Tunes” with N.O.R.E. & Mall G perfectly lives up to it’s title over a bland beat. Following the “Emergency Forecast” skit, the song “Wild Cats” with Redman, Streetlife & Hanz On talks about how reckless all 4 of them are over a piano & a guitar. “The Lab” with Spank talks about the drug game over a minimalist beat while the song “Bridge Boys” with Kash Verrazano Talk about hood fame over an apocalyptic beat.

The track “Back Blockz” with Youngin’, Cardi Express & F.R.E.A.K. talks about doing shit by themselves over an eerie beat while the song “Ronins” with Cappadonna, Masta Killa & Hanz On is filled with battle bars over a gritty beat with an organ. After the “Impractical Jokers: Torture” skit, the song “2 More Minutes” talks about being underrated over a rap rock beat. Then after the “Pussy on SoundCloud” skit, the song “S.I. vs. Everybody” is a boring rendition of “Detroit vs. Everybody” off the 2014 Shady Records compilation SHADYXV.

The track “Lithium” with Hanz On & Sheek Louch reflects on their days in the streets over a boom bap beat with a wailing guitar while the “P.L.O.” remix is a lackluster sequel to the song off Meth’s classic 1994 debut Tical. The song “Killing the Game” with Pretty Blanco speaks for itself for a generic trap beat & before ending with the outro, the final song “Yo” tells the listener to respect them over a somber trap beat.

Yeah, I didn’t care for this. Method Man still has it lyrically & the production is slightly better than the predecessor but just like last time, I still feel like it’s packed with a lot of filler.

Score: 2/5

U-God – “Venom” review


Almost 5 years after the release of the highly underrated The Keynote Speaker & with his autobiography coming out earlier this month, Wu-Tang Clan member U-God is returning with his 5th full-length album. The opener “Exordium” brags about his success as an MC over an orchestral beat & the next song “Unstoppable” talks about his longevity over a decent Powers Pleasant instrumental. The track “Epicenter” with Raekwon, Inspectah Deck & Scotty Wotty sees the 4 telling us that the Clan is the central point of hip hop over an sinister boom bap beat from DJ Green Lantern while the song “Bit da Dust” tells the story of someone getting stuck over a DJ Homicide beat that sounds like something the Wu-Elements would’ve produced.

The song “Elegance” is a smooth love tune with a decent hook from Nomdiq while the track “Climate” touches down on the current state of hip hop over some sinister keys & punchy drums. The titular song gets braggadocious & the way he flows over the beat is perfect while the track “Felon” reflects on his criminal past over a Large Professor instrumental with a killer rap rock vibe to it. The song “Legacy” is an ode to U-God’s own legacy & the horns in the instrumental where a nice touch.

The track “Whole World Watchin’” brags about how skillful he is over a gritty horn-inflicted boom bap beat from Lord Finesse while the song “XXX” with Method Man sees the 2 venting about a couple jealous exes they had over a infectious beat. The penultimate track “Jackpot” is basically a Scotty Wotty song since U-God doesn’t appear on it at all & while it’s not terrible, I feel like it didn’t need to be on here. The album then closes with “Wisdom”, where Golden Arms gets insightful over an ambitious beat.

Honestly, this is up there with The Keynote Speaker & Golden Arms Redemption as one of U-God’s better solo albums. The production is mostly on point & lyrically, it’s probably his most mature one yet.

Score: 4/5

Wu-Tang Clan – “The Saga Continues” review

When it seemed like 2014’s A Better Tomorrow would be the almighty Wu-Tang Clan’s final group album, they’re now returning with their 7th official full-length album (excluding the single-copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin) & they have enlisted Wu-Elements member Mathematics to produce it in it’s entirety. After a 91 second instrumental intro with a spoken word sample & then an actual spoken monologue from the Clan’s de facto leader RZA, we are then treated to the album’s first song “Lesson Learn’d”. Here, Inspectah Deck teams up with Redman to remind you that they never play around over a hard hitting boom bap instrumental & I also didn’t mind Deck’s jab at the Once Upon a Time in Shaolin purchaser Martin Shkreli near the end of his verse, given that he’s an evil culture vulture. The track “Fast & Furious” is pretty much Raekwon & Hue Hef getting mafioso over a menacing instrumental & while Hue was just ok, Rae definitely made up for it. After a short instrumental interlude that takes it back the group’s early days with a Kung Fu sample, we are then lead into the next song If Time’s Money (Fly Navigation). It’s pretty much a Method Man solo cut, but he makes up for his last album The Meth Lab by hopping on an instrumental you can really kick back to & spitting a long yet charismatic verse.

The track “Frozen” may have a lazy hook as it recycles a couple Rae & Ghostface Killah lines from “4 Horsemen”, but the verses from Meth about pushing the limit as well as the vivid storytelling from Killah Priest & the lethally angry Chris Rivers make up for it some keys along with a bass guitar & a regular guitar. After a 45 second skit with a soulful instrumental in the background, we then get into the next song “Pearl Harbor”. Here, the late Sean Price gets with Meth & RZA to confrontationally spit bars like being the greatest & telling your crew to wear shorts with an image of you on it over some gritty horns as well as some keys & an organ. I also love how RZA brings back his Bobby Digital alter ego during his verse & the one line he makes midway through his part about how he can turn Lady Gaga heterosexual again was pretty hilarious. The track “People Say” sees Deck, Meth, Rae & Masta Killa linking back up with Redman alongside to get braggadocious over a very soulful boom bap beat. “Family” is a 1 minute skit containing a sample of a mother talking about family (hence the title) & the next song “Why Why Why” is basically a conscious RZA solo cut over some funky bass & some decently sung vocals from Swnkah.

The track “G’d Up” is basically Meth & R-Mean talking about being just that & the beat is pretty luscious, but the Mzee Jones hook sounds like a cut-rate T-Pain. The song “If What You Say Is True” sees Cappadonna along with GZA & Masta Killa getting with Streetlife to spit some abrasive battle rhymes over some sinister horns. The “skit” Saga is less of a skit & more of RZA spitting about haters not wanting the Clan grow & even a cool reference to the Flint water crisis over some beautiful strings. The 91 second “Hood Go Bang!” has a decent Redman hook, but then lone verse that Method Man delivers nearly has the same rhyme scheme throughout that it’s crazy. The final song in the track listing is “My Only One”, where Cappa along with The Abbott & Tony Starks rap about their boos over a grimy instrumental. The next 2 tracks are just a 2 minute interlude with a funky instrumental & long spoken word sample & then a 45 second monologued outro from the RZA over the same instrumental as the one in the intro.

At the end of the day, this was a lot more consistent than the last few group albums. It feels more like a compilation considering the fact that there’s only 1 or 2 group members on a number of tracks & U-God not being on it at all, but everyone including almost all the features go & Mathematics probably made it the Clan’s most well produced album since The W

Score: 4/5

Masta Killa – “Loyalty is Royalty” review


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

Cappadonna – “The Yin & The Yang” review

After starting off his solo career with the underrated The Pillage, Wu-Tang Clan member Cappadonna is finally delivering a sophomore effort. The album starts off with “The Grits”, which has some triumphant horns along with some aggressive verses from both Cappa & the song’s producer Agallah. The next song “Super Model” sees Cappa talking about groupies over some hard hitting boom bap drums & a guitar sample. The Ghostface Killah hook on here is just ok, though. The track “War Rats” has a confrontative vibe throughout, but the beat’s bland & the hook is just redundant. The song “Love’s the Message” with Raekwon is a nice club track & while the disco-influenced production on here was surprising, it fits with the vibe very well. While the song “We Know” has a decent beat from Jermaine Dupri, the rapidly delivered verse from Da Brat about halfway through the track makes up for it. To be completely honest, this was just ok. Cappa himself isn’t really the issue, but rather there’s a lot more features than there should’ve been & the production on most of these tracks were just weak

Score: 2.5/5