The longevity of the Wu-Tang Clan never ceases to amaze the hip-hop community. After twenty plus years in the game the Killa Bees still consistently come out with quality music, collectively and as individuals. After releasing the much anticipated sequel to Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx in 2009 and Wu-Massacre with fellow Wu-Tang members Method Man and Ghoastface Killah in 2010, Raekwon doesn’t miss a beat in 2011 as he drops his fifth solo album Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang. Chef Raekwon cooks up another solid serving of hip-hop, successfully blending traditional Wu-Tang sounds with the presence of non clan members such as Rick Ross, Lloyd Banks and Black Thought to create the ear appetizing masterpiece that is Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang.
Although there are no RZA produced tracks on Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang there are still numerous songs that give listeners that real raw classic Wu-Tang flavor. None more so than “Butter Knives”, a track produced by close Wu-Tang affiliate Bronze Nazareth. “Butter Knives” contains samples of the sound of swords clashing together and well orchestrated strings that co-exist perfectly with Raekwon’s flow as he spits rugged yet regal bars like “The emperor of slang lords, kings get clapped in they dome get they throne rushed and I ant got a gun on”.
The track “Molasses” is quite different from “Butter Knives”. The beat consists of a more modern mellow melody full of smooth jazzy horns. Rae is joined on the track by frequent collaborator Ghoastface Killah and the boss of all bosses, Ricky Ross. “Molasses” is one of the best examples of Raekwon combining the flows of newer artists like Ross with that of his and Tony Starks. He does so by linking the verses through a brilliant chorus that goes “Scarface, gangsters, criminal niggas up in the trenches/army coats on playing the benches/Getting paper sly that’s the motto/ intelligent goons inside a 100 thousand dollar whip follow”.
Another great chorus comes courtesy of Estelle on the track “Chop Chop Ninja”. In addition to Estelle’s captivating hook, and a dope verse by Inspekta Deck “Chop Chop Ninja” features a somewhat oriental influence. Obviously this is a theme found throughout the Wu-Tang Clan discography but it is especially evident on Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, including the track “Crane Style” featuring Busta Rhymes. Al though Busta doesn’t come as hard as he did on is appearance on “About Me” from Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx 2, “Crane Style” is still a solid song.
Unlike Busta Rhymes, Nas was not featured on Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx 2, despite a surplus of hype for a Lyrical Intercourse 2. However Nas does make an appearance on Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang. The track is called “Rich and Black” but it may as well be called lyrical intercourse 2, because the song consists of two of New York’s finest respectfully trading bars as they conceive a track full of lyrical dopeness.
From top to bottom Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang is an excellent album. Every track is worth listening to. With this album the chef adds a whole new list of soon to be classics to his already lengthy menu. But is it better than any of the Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx Albums? That is for you to decide.
4 out of 5 mics