Raekwon Presents Icewater
Let's get one thing straight - if you write off Ice Water as another St. Lunatics or P$C (read: shitty groups being put on by their superstar friend) - you'd be quite mistaken. After being featured on Raekwon's Lex Diamond Story some years back, the group has finally debuted with Polluted Water - and what a supporting cast! Busta Rhymes, Method Man, Three 6 Mafia, Pimp C and others show up for the affair, and let's not forget Raekwon himself, who appears on seven of the album's seventeen tracks.
The album starts off with "Animal," which won't awe you in terms of lyricism, but does a great job of setting the tone for the Shaolin quartet's debut. Next is one of the album's best cuts in "Do It Big," which features Raekwon and Busta Rhymes. What Busta is doing rapping about stacking paper and drugs is anyone's guess, but the Flipmode General sounds great on the track, as does Raekwon. Don't count Icewater out though, as the rookies show that they can play with the vets.
"Actin' Fly" is the first misstep on the album. The song, which is about hollerin' at stuck up women, is full of clichés and sticks out like a sore thumb. Things get back on track with Ice Water, which is just brimming with energy: "I saw the light and grabbed it, it became me/Who woulda thought it woulda been a mic that changed me/Blood can sometime be seen as a blessin'/Teach the youth a lesson, this what happen when you shootin' weapons/Swallow the fire, slowly watch the demons expire/They plottin' my death, I heard through the wire/Should I react first/Or should I be a man and take a stand/Against a plan that's got us blacks cursed"
The appropriately-titled "Hip Hop" tribute has Ice Water and Raekwon paying homage to New York's Hip Hop pioneers. "Love Don't Cost A Thing" is an irritating track with just an awful hook, though Method Man's verse is certainly worth listening to. Some of the best production on the album comes on the atmospheric and moody "Click Click," which caters to Raekwon and Ice Water's crime stories perfectly.
So what is there to say about Ice Water? The album's dope, there's no doubt about that. But how much can you really attribute to Ice Water themselves? The crew is often outshined by their guests, but that's the risk you run when you have legends like Busta, Method Man and Raekwon rapping alongside you. The group is also heavily aided by generally solid production, which makes it easier to ignore when things go a little dull.
Raekwon clearly has great influence on the group, because Ice Water sounds best rapping alongside him. Sometimes when they go it solo, things get a little unfocused, such as the oh-so-generic "Gangsta." Since the title of the album has "Raekwon Presents" in it, this isn't too serious of a concern, but it does raise the question - what makes this a solid album? Is it the group, or the guests and the production? Regardless, dope is dope; if you pick this one up, you'll be pleasantly surprised.