One of the things that makes hip hop so great and how it differs from other musical genres is the ability to take words, flip ’em around and give them new meanings. To those who don’t know better (the 85%…) and don’t do the knowledge for themselves, they would take the title of this album and quickly conclude that Masta Killa is apart of the so-called illuminati. In actual fact, he is simply stating that this album is very soul influenced that he put his soul into it.
Selling My Soul is the third album from Wu-Gambino Noodles, and while this time round there is no guest appearances from the clan, the machete wielding swordsman maintains the Wu-Tang sound, while adding a few surprises like had done earlier. This is the review of the physical CD copy, which was delayed in the UK for months up until now.
The album starts off with a skit in typical Wu-fashion with its subtle messages, it tells the story of he who is among the clan but fades into the background because of his fellow more animated brethren, but when he does emerge it is with an impact, and then the soulful sound begins. In the Allah Mathematics produced intro, Masta Killa shows creativity by switching up various lyrics from the clan’s different songs including U-God’s lyrics from the Wu-Tang classic hit ‘Triumph’ “Profylic torch flaming, it burns so sweet, The thrill of victory, defeat, is never meant for me…” and puts it into one verse ‘name that lyric’ style, and judging by that, you know that this album is full of ‘Soul & Substance’. and sets the album off in a smooth way.
It’s good to see that Inspectah Deck is still on the production side, he will always be underrated in his rhymes as well as his beats. If you think the beat sounds familiar… that’s because you may have heard it on the Wu-Block album, or better still, the J Dilla/Elzhi hit – Love It Here, or even better than that – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Much Better Off. R U Listening????
…and after hearing that, ‘Things Just Ain’t The Same’. this is the lead single from the album. PF Cuttin is another producer that knows the Wu-Tang sound – he was also responsible for ‘It is What It Is’ from the Made In Brooklyn album. Both this and the aforementioned ‘R U Listening’ were originally meant to be featured on the album ‘Loyalty Is Royalty’ which Masta Killa promises is still coming out in the future. Let’s just hope it doesn’t become a lost tape like RZA’s ‘The Cure’ or Dr Dre’s ‘Detox’. Hopefully it won’t come to that as Jamel Irief always gives the fans what they want.
The intro you heard at the start of the album becomes a continuation and becomes the album’s musical theme… this time the album’s only guest star Kurupt comes through and invites Masta Killa over to the Westside which becomes one of the album’s surprises. In Made In Brooklyn, Masta Killa had some reggae flavour as he was abruptly invited over to Jamaica. This time, he enjoys the ‘Cali Sun’. You would never think that he would flow over a west coast beat as smooth… the flow carries on into the next track, and ‘What You See’ is what you get: A seemingly laid back clansman who isn’t afraid to experiment and come out of his comfort zone.
It is only right that the 9th Member of the Bunch teams up with 9th Wonderful Beats in one of the album’s standout tracks, it’s that ‘Food’ for the soul. This time Masta Killa flips the Abbott’s lyrics from Wu-Tang Forever’s ‘Severe Punishment’: “So emcees wonder how me and 9th Wonder
Make the ladies shake it in the club like thunder, My rhymes will beat fire out of something, no question, And 9th will make musical hits for you to listen…” Following this is an example of Wu-Tang teaching the children the path of righteousness. It’s ‘All Natural’ to Masta Killa when he addresses the 5% and drops knowledge.
The next track is another surprise by the clansman as he revisits the West Coast and remembers Tupac Shakur’s words praising the Wu-Tang that was featured on Killa’s début album ‘No Said Date’. Here he pays ode to the legend by not rhyming, but rather speaking ‘Wise Words’ over the classic ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ instrumental. Then he seeks Divine Glory by putting his romantic charm on his secret lover, Blue Magic style.
Masta Killa goes from his ode to Tupac to his ode to all his soul influences growing up, before he gives his own tribute to the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The Blackinati produced track is tailor-made for Ason Unique, who had he be alive, would have straight assaulted this track Brooklyn Zoo style. Masta Killa recites the ODB hit ‘Hippa to the Hoppa’ with hints of ODB’s voice here and there. Russell Jones may not be here in the physical, but he continues to live through his music, his clansmen, his family and the fans.
Selling My Soul is another great effort by Masta Killa, showing that even changing it up a bit, he can stay consistent. Three albums in, and he’s arguably up there with Raekwon & Ghostface in terms of consistency. The only downside is that after 39 minutes the album is over and some tracks abruptly end instead of fading to black smoothly. Despite those minors, this is the direction that Masta Killa is going in especially with an upcoming project with HaLo and 9th Wonder which the super producer has documented that it is one to watch and not to be slept on.
With upcoming projects from Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Raekwon, U-God later this year, and the Inspectah Deck Czarface it’s en route to the Wu-Tang’s 20th anniversary album, hip hop fans must be ready for another flood, and I’m sure they don’t mind drowning in the greatness.