The Wisemen once again emerge from the dusk of Detroit to deliver a hearty dose of Wu-Tang inspired tracks on their sophomore LP, Children Of A Lesser God. While their debut, Wisemen Approaching, garnered critical acclaim, it left certain Wu-Tang enthusiasts with something to be desired. For years, Wisemen founder Bronze Nazareth crafted illustrious instrumentals for RZA, GZA, Masta Killa, Immortal Technique, Ras Kass and more, but finally stepped out of the shadows and emerged onto the scene with mind-numbing lyrics on 2006’s The Great Migration. Since then, Bronze has put on his team consisting of Phillie, Salute, and brother Kevlaar 7. On Children Of A Lesser God, Bronze takes listeners on a journey through Detroit’s slums ala Wu-Tang to Shaolin, while the other Wisemen do their best to keep up with their leader, while sometimes overshadowing him.
Surprsingly, Kevlaar 7 moves behind the boards several times on Children and in the case of the student becoming the master, the Detroit emcee outdoes many of Bronze’s efforts with his gritty instrumentals. Take for instance the the bass-heavy “Thirsty Fish” featuring Raekwon or the inspired instrumentation of “Faith Doctrine.” The latter features the Wisemen using their lyrics to ground the hopes of potential emcees as Phillie, spits, “this rap game need me like Lil Wayne or Jeezy/not saying it’s when he’s making a CD/but it’s gonna take more than a steak to feed me/ a dog chain to leash me/a saw blade to crease me/ we are not the same species.” This song is one of the many on Children that’s sure to make underground fans go crazy, with conscious lyrics of hard work and dedication intertwined with an unparalleled production. Evidence of Bronze’s style rubbing off on his brother comes to the forefront on “Victorious Hoods” which features guest appearances from Victorious and Planet Asia. The aforementioned track includes a spellbinding saxophone sample that eloquently engulfs the instrumental. Kevlaar once again flips a soulful vocal sample and meshes it with a sophisticated drum kit that hits with the succession of unloading the drum on submachine gun. Returning to 2007’s The Wisemen Approaching, Bronze and co, offer up a new rendition of the storytelling ballad, “The Illness.” The updated version somehow transcends one of the previous album’s standout tracks, with a magnificent instrumental from Kevlaar that’s dispersed with samples of Wu-Tang’s classic, “C.R.E.A.M.” While the lyrics are cataclysmically disorganized in comparison to the original, Phillie steals the show with an excellently thought-out tale of a cutthroat Detroit thug whose karma catches up with him, leaving him paralyzed and inevitably deceased. “I Gotta Know” is another instance in which the Wisemen deliver lyrical lashings with their proverbial swords over an incredibly arranged instrumental. Everything from the lyrics to the jazz guitar infused sample, to the hook, perfectly synergizes to form an underground marvel.
The short track “Lucy” takes the opposite approach of “Blinded” from the crew’s first album and consists of the Detroit rappers graphically narrating their exploits of running through a promiscuous woman (“I leave your p*ssy concaved and break the f*ck out/spray and duck out, her legs tremble, spill the rum out“). Once again, Bronze Nazareth displays why he’s one of the most revered producers in the game, crafting another gem in his illustrious catalogue. The vocal samples used throughout “Lucy” are tremendous, especially when intertwined with a looped trumpet. The song’s motif is revisited on “Do It Again,” which is slightly less misogynistic and a nice throwback to the days of early chipmunk soul samples. Bronze once again spares no details and intelligently verses, “calling me back like echoes in the Grand Canyon/I can’t front, I ate the p*ssy like a grand Cayman/grand slammin, bustin’ on her backgammon.” Bronze Nazareth goes on to display his undisputed RZA influence on “Panic In The Park,” however the end results sound rushed and ultimately succumbs to being passable. Yet Bronze redeems himself with the off-beat instrumental on “Makes Me Want a Shot,” which personifies the inebriated spirit of the track. Bronze once again kills his verse by swiftly weaving through syllables with ear-waving lines like “I’m following the footsteps of Garvey mixed with drips of Bacardi/dropping clips like I’m Plaxico in a church lobby.” Taking a sample and lowering the vocal tones, Bronze goes on to manipulate “Hurt Lockers” into a rarity in Wisemen’s body of work, for it includes a somewhat catchy hook (“I’m the bomb like a terrorist attack/you are just a firecracker, how embarrassing is that?“). Nazareth’s crate digging abilities are put on display with “Get U Shot” which utilizes an obscure soul sample to embody all of the elements of a Wu-Tang classic. Articulating tales of Detroit’s coldhearted gunslingers, Bronze’s cadence makes simplistic bars seem enchantingly complex as he spits, “maggots gon’ eat his wounds/f*ggot, I see you soon/got a habit to leave n*ggas wrapped up like cocoons.” This is one of the highlights of Children Of A Lesser God, as each one of the Wisemen stand tall with gutter rhymes and equally impressive deliveries.
There are very few setbacks within Children Of A Lesser God. The title cut is easily the weakest effort on the entire album. With a chaotic production pieced together by crashing cymbals and a dearth of quality lyrics, there are very few salvageable remnants on the second track. Oddly enough, the album’s closer is also a snoozer. Bronze takes an uncommon turn on “Corn Liquor Thoughts” by using a minimalistic sample as opposed to the larger-than-life sounds which has become typical for the Wu in-house producer. While this measure was most likely taken to ensure that listeners will take heed to the emcee’s lyrics, the instrumental outro on Children is far more captivating.
Although the name ‘Bronze Nazareth’ often overshadows other group members, each Wiseman adds their own unique flavor into the mix and more often than not surpasses Bronze in terms of verbal delivery. In fact, Bronze’s brother Kevlaar gets the upper-hand in terms of instrumentals throughout Children Of A Lesser God. Yet, Children is a quality album as even the forgettable interludes placed throughout Children feature production that far surpasses most instrumentals on modern Hip Hop releases. Without a doubt, this album exceeds expectations and marginalizes the group’s freshman release. With an album so rugged, yet so refined, it’s only a matter of time before Wisemen gain recognition as the pinnacle of all Wu affiliates.