By Mike Madden | March 14th, 2011
Hip-hop has typically been a genre that’s featured more up-and-comers than veterans. That’s especially true now in the Infomation Age, when artists can release mixtapes immediately after recording them and garner huge audiences via the many wonders of the internet (see: Lil B, Odd Future). However, a few of the most popular rappers nowadays have been on the scene for well over a decade, including the Wu-Tang Clan’s ever-consistent Raekwon.
Here on his fifth solo album, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, Rae effectively strengthens the Wu empire. He’s always lyrically on point, and imprints the album with his grimy voice and impenetrable flow. Fifteen producers handle the 17 tracks, and they all do their best to imitate the classic Wu sound in a RZA-like fashion (though RZA himself doesn’t appear anywhere).
With a handful of ineffective and atypical elements (check out the choruses on “Chop Chop Ninja” and “Rock N Roll” ) Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang is wholly strong but somewhat patchy. It doesn’t quite match its immediate predecessor, the sequel to 1996′s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, but it proves that Rae and the rest of his Clan still “ain’t nuthing ta fuck wit.”