If 2012 is to remembered for something in hip hop as well as top quality albums, it is hip hop album collaborations. It’s something not really seen in the early days maybe due to label deals and other politics, but artists have established themselves now to a point where they can pretty much control their own career paths. This year we have seen Ras Kass & Doc Hollywood, Apollo Brown & OC, Apollo Brown & Guilty Simpson, and now Ghostface Killah & Sheek Louch.
These Wu-Block collaborations began in the mid 2000’s, on Ghostface’s Pretty Toney album, where The Lox/D-Block featured on two tracks, Metal Lungies and Run respectively. But since then they have appeared on each others albums and mixtapes consistently so, they thought it was only right to give the fans (and the streets,) what they want.
Wu-Block 2012 (the title suggests more collaboration albums from the two camps) is a 14 track album (16 if you count the iTunes version…) strictly for the streets, you will find NO radio joint here, neither will you find a super producer here either (apart from Erick Sermon). A risky move, one might say, but RePPiN4U sees it as artists who recognize hungry producers who may make it big in 2013. So did the risk pay off? Or is it a case of Immobilarity?,
No messing about, no intro, just straight into the bangas. It begins with Crack Spot Stories. You may recognize the beat from J Dilla’s Love It Here, or perhaps Masta Killas new track, Are You Listening? from the Selling My Soul album (which will be reviewed on RePPiN4U top of 2013.) But I think Ghostface, Sheek, Raekwon & Jadakiss flipped this beat the best.
Time to ‘Pour Tha Martini’ with Sheek, Cappadonna over a triumphant beat… both guys go in ferociously, but it’s Ghostface who has to fight the groupies off here.
After that they gotta ‘Pull Tha Cars Out’, Cappadonna tags out, Method Man tags in. If Ghostface was fighting the groupies off before, he will have to give in now that his fellow clansman has entered the arena and we know how the ladies feel about Hot Nix…
The wordplay here by Sheek on ‘Guns For Life’ is amazing: “I known him ever since he was nine, now he 22 Thinking he 45, that n!**@ is live, Like to come with me everywhere when I drive Trouble maker same time, keep you alive His ego too big, he be getting pumped I told him chill, he said it’s better when you getting jumped…” Styles and Ghostface tell equally amazing stories about their ‘significant other’… no secret these guys but their gun and they sound as if they almost love it as much as Allah…
Back in ’93, the clan told you to proteck ya neck…. now obviously fake wannabe gangstas have not taken heed the warning. Styles P stays in tow, and now Raekwon joins him and are ‘Comin For Ya Head’. Th joint coalition tell their hustling tales on ‘Cocaine Central’, they make it sound mad exciting. Sheek becomes amusing when he leaves a message on Ghostface’s phone telling him to get his stuff together and do the Wu-Block tour. Reportedly Ghost is making excuses that he has the flu but he left with women the night before….hmmmm!!!
Wu-Block are urging you to ‘Take Notice’ here. Sheek continues is stories of fantasizes about president first ladies, and Ghostface is going on like he does have the flu…. he doesn’t sound like he’s rhyming through his head!!!
‘Driving Round’ features the album’s only non Wu-Block guest – Erykah Badu. Think of the clan’s video for It’s Yourz when it switches to Older Godz, but slow that video right down. Instead of Raekwon, Sheek is in the car. Now you get the picture. Masta Killa’s flow suits the chilled out pace of the track, and ironically enough, GZA, who also appeared on Older Godz, compliments the track. These guys are driving round observing the state of the projects and letting the misguided know how it really goes down instead of all these other artists sugar-coating everything.
Don’t you just love at the start of tracks either Ghostface or Raekwon go on a random rant before they go in? Ghostface, Sheek Louch & Inspectah Deck show no
matter where they are in the world, doesn’t matter if they are in ‘Different Time Zones’, they all connect and get their hustle on regardless on a beat that sounds tailor-made for Killarmy. The Fifth Brother tags out, in comes Jadakiss. as they pay homage to Method Man & Redman’s Blackout as they become the ‘Stick Up Kids’.
The next banger may solidify Wu-Block as the ‘modern day All In Together’ crew, and they intend to keep it all in together in the club if guys be frontin’, Ghostface warns those who think snitching is a good idea: “Trust me, you ain’t convincing/And this’ll be the same club you get lynched in/And it’ll be the same blood you get rinsed in/Doctor bills don’t play they expensive…”
The chemistry between Sheek and Ghostface is almost reminiscent of the Cuban Linx saga, as they speak on half-ass rappers wearing all this fake jewelry and having a suspect chin, and fabricating hip hop. They are letting them know this on the Erick Sermon produced ‘Do It Like Us’, featuring a more vicious sounding Raekwon. It’s good to hear that side of Rae as opposed to the more mellow side that we hear now. Raekwon tags out, tags in a shining Method Man on the shady lady tale ‘Stella’…. “It’s survival, homey, you ain’t never lied, my lord But the Pretty Toney baby ain’t never lied before That’s a hundred lucci, word to Bully, I smoke too many loosies I know her history, if something fishy, must be the coochie It ain’t no mystery, your finger itchy, if she a groupie Once you go up, once you go down, let’s keep it Gucci…”
Finally Sheek and Ghost go line for line on the humorous ‘Been Robbed’… Ghost’s robbing game is so tight that he even has the most ferocious dog acting like a puppy, while Sheek takes off with hustlers jewelry and their ‘podium’… insinuating that they are b!tches.
‘Bust Shots’ is the hidden bonus track on the album, and arguably the most Wu-sounding, reminiscent of GZA’s Liquid Swords. The iTunes version has an equally impressive remix by Andrew Kelley, which has a more Bulletproof Wallets feel.
This is a very solid effort by the Wu-Block coalition. On first listen, some tracks sound uninteresting and skippable, that is after learning that the clan’s abbott is absent in the album, maybe due to his Man with the Iron Fists project…it is also a shame that they didn’t include their anthem track that was produced by RZA as well as a bonus track…but give it more listens and you find that they have maintained a consistency. This album is not as immediately catchy and absorbing like other quality albums that has come out this year, but throughout the album you can see that they have remained a constant unit, no slacking from either camp, plus the fact they kept the guest appearances within the two camps and just let Erykah Badu come through to lay those necessary vocals. With the Wu’s presence, D-Block definitely brought their A-game. Here’s hoping that now the Wu will make that dream collaboration with Boot Camp Clik, we have already seen great stuff from them collectively in the Chamber Music and Legendary Weapons albums, but as we enter 2013, the clan’s 20th Anniversary, we don’t mind waiting on that dream. In the meantime we can enjoy this, The Man With the Iron Fists Soundtrack and Masta Killa’s Selling My Soul without ruining our appetite.