Made In Brooklyn
When Wu-Tang Clan bum rushed the Hip Hop scene in 1993, many heads took immediate notice, setting the stage for each member to branch out and achieve even more success through solo endeavors. The latest of said projects, Masta Killa's second solo album, continues the recent string of raw releases hopefully destined to return the Wu to its former greatness. After much critical acclaim for No Said Date, expectations for this outing are high. Masta Killa manages to shoulder the weight effortlessly with a phenomenal selection of the kind of gritty production that has become the Wu's hallmark coupled with lyrics that are razor sharp at their best, and on point at their worst.
For the second time, MK manages to bring the entire Clan together; but don't expect another posse cut a la "9 Milli Bros.," as these appearances are spread out over three songs. The haunting violins of "Street Corner" are the perfect setting for MK, Inspectah Deck, and The GZA to paint vivid pictures of life in the struggle. Although I haven't been impressed by much of The Genius' more recent material, you can't front on the real life descriptiveness of "In a broke neighborhood, where the kids often dream about a lavish life that is mostly seen on a screen / but some dreams are quickly cut short due to gang violence, and loud guns that kept witnesses in deep silence." On the other hand, Masta Killa more than proves he can hold it down for delf with joints like "Pass The Bone (remix)," where he breaks from the monotone norm with an energetic flow over a beautifully soulful track courtesy of Sor. The Al Green chop just fits so perfectly that you almost don't realize that MK's just refreshing the original RZA and GZA verses until he's already given you a contact off his blunted lyricism.
Not every joint is as superb as the aforementioned tracks, however - but for the most part these lulls in the action do little to bring the overall feel and sound of this project down. Case in point, "Older Gods pt.2" is probably the most generic Pete Rock I've personally ever heard, with its incredibly repetitive horn sample. Yet MK still manages to spit thought provoking knowledge like "false imprisonment, big business for government official / address the issue, blow the whistle". I'll probably get a lot of hate for this, but I also wasn't particularly feeling "Then and Now," a song featuring three children and yet another variation of an already familiar hook. The end result comes off a little gimmicky in my opinion and will probably become very tired after only a few listens.
Those expecting an album exclusively composed of gritty New York street chronicles will be surprised that there are three joints dedicated to the opposite sex. The strongest of these is "Nehanda and Cream," a tale of two sisters backed by up and comer Bronze Nazareth's smooth production and a stellar display of Masta Killa's monotone style. Aside from a few diluted tracks production wise, Masta Killa has crafted a very strong sophomore album that is definitely a worthy follow up to 2004's No Said Date. The stage is set. Wu-Tang forever.