After a dive into their sophomore double album Wu-Tang Forever I thought Id reacquaint myself with the nine man clans third which includes the groups most known song "Gravel Pit" and a personal favorite of mine "Protect Your Neck", a warm rap track with a sunny groovin baseline, fills me with fond memories of downloading the MP3 from Napaster! The record has a fine flow, The RZA's production dials back the gritty and raw in favor of tighter aesthetics with slick drum kits playing off grisly, funky baselines loaded with 70s samples. The tracks roll off one another, from rap brandishing pedestals to moving message oriented songs with soulful samples the record would be solid if it wasn't for a couple of duds.
What makes The W noticeably different is the inclusion of artists outside the Wu-affiliation circle. Old Dirty Bastard turns up on just one track, bringing along legend Snoop Dogg for the lousy "MC conditioner" hook and forgettable verses on an average beat with demo quality recording quality vocals from ODB. Snoop is mixed in quietly between his verses, its a a real flop and also the albums longest track. On the shortest Busta Rhymes turns up on a quirkier, temperate beat that doesn't suit his hyped style. Aside from those weak points, rappers Redman, Nas and Streetlife turn up with sharp rhymes worthy of the Wu. The reggae voice of Junior Reed and deep soulful tenor of Isaac Hayes light up their tracks with fantastic contributions too.
Even with a host of accomplices, no one outshines the Wu at their own game. The Shaolin style is prominent as to be expected, the rhymes and beats sharp and on fire, perhaps with a little less hype and rawness as these are now seasoned veterans calculating their moves in battle. "Careful" takes the cake as the records best song, a mysterious tomb raider alike beat sets the stage for a string of classic group shout hooks, each rhyme playing of the last. "Something in slum went rhum-peh-pum-pum". Great album, the following Iron Flag is unfortunately the drop off point for the group.
Favorite Tracks: Careful, One Blood Under W, Protect Your Neck, I Cant Go To Sleep, Gravel Pit