Raekwon: Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang

Raewkon is arguably one of the most consistent emcees within his infamous hip-hop crew, Wu-Tang Clan.

After the group’s positively received reunion album 8 Diagrams was released in 2007, the Wu General was able to release his 2009 masterpiece Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…II, the sequel to his 1995 magnum opus. Garnering enormous appraise from music critics, the brilliantly orchestrated follow-up became ranked as one of the best albums of the year. Fast-forward to 2011 where the Chef looks for a repeat as he gears to serve up his latest potent offering Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang.   

The album’s title Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang originates from the 1981 martial arts film of the same name – the very film that led to the inspiration behind the group’s name. Channeling the history into his fifth studio album, Rae dishes up a cohesive project from start to finish. The pulsating album opener features several sound clips from the film. The intro provides a clear message, preparing the listener for what is to come within the 17-track LP: a cinematic experience filled with vivid imagery, gutwrenching lyricism, and hard-hitting beats.   

What’s ironic about Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang is that despite the absence of Wu’s beatsmith, RZA, contributing producers such as Scram Jones, DJ Khalil, The Alchemist, Sean C & LV among others, fill the void. The latter handles production duties on the album’s highly anticipated track “Rich & Black” which features none other than Queen’s finest, Nas. Together, they deliver a lyrical soufflé as they go head-to-head on this long-awaited follow-up to their 1995 gem, “Verbal Intercourse.” Among the list of collaborators, this by far is the album’s ultimate highlight.

Despite RZA’s absence, Rae cooks up an appeasing album, leaving fans craving for more.