RAEKWON – THE WILD

RELEASE DATE: March 24, 2017, ICEH2O RECORDS/EMPIRE

Written by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U, member of GGO – Ghetto Government Officials and Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition

IN THE LAST EPISODE…

“Usually, the chef will tell their customers, what is in the dish that they prepared for them in detail. Raekwon has done no different in many interviews prior to this album coming out months in advance. So why didn’t Rae’s loyal heads not take heed? While this album has been received well by casual hip hop fans, the hardcore fan base are not so pleased, especially in a time when Raekwon most notably trashed the Wu album – A Better Tomorrow…”

Raekwon The wildThis basically summed up F.I.L.A. Fly International Luxurious Art. I saw what Rae was trying to do. We all did, but I stand by what I said last time. He let his fans know before hand and as a result, the fans let themselves down with their expectations. Rae’s most hardcore fans want the Wu-Tang sound and nothing less. But with RZA’s production sounding more left field as of late, this has led our Wu generals looking elsewhere for beats that will appeal to their fan base.

RZA has handed the Wu keys over to Ghostface Killah if we are to see a new Wu Album, and who is Ghost’s longtime tag team partner? The Chef himself, who has heard the constructive criticism regarding F.I.L.A. and so this is another attempt to fine tune his sound to appeal to loyal fans and new fans. We recently learned that Justice League will be producing on the new Wu Album, and they are featured here on this new project – The Wild, which has no Wu features at all, and dedicated to Mel Carter. With all this in mind, is this an early inkling to what the new Wu Album could sound like?

No messing about, straight into the first single. ‘This Is What It Comes Too’ right? Raekwon is bringing the ferocious flow back over classic drums brought into 2017. A remix has recently surfaced featuring that man who had been gone for 36 Seasons. Now not for ‘Nothing’, Rae comes through with sonics which resemble the Wu-sound. You will not find Kung Fu skits here, but instead you hear parodies based on the real in the form of a guy singing about shorties getting their head right…

Talking of stories based on the real, Rae takes you back to April 2, 1939 with a sure-fire album highlight, sending a tribute to ‘Marvin’ Gaye. The track is a soul drenching winner thanks to the hook supplied by Cee Lo Green. The soulful flow continues on into ‘Can’t You See’. If the listener is not zoned out at this point with a tear in their eye… I don’t think this album is for them.

This is the ‘controversial’ track of the album. Wu-fans worst nightmare has come true in ‘My Corner’. All the Lil’ Wayne hating memes, all the pictures of his album in the toilet or set on fire, has all come to bite Wu-Fans in their backside. The chief hip hop villain joins the Chef here and to make matters even more disturbing, Mr Carter Jr brings his A-Game in his rhymes over a vicious frantic beat because he knew he had no choice against a hostile Wu-audience.

Rae shows a bit of a comedic side to him which you don’t see very often, introducing the ‘F**k You Up Card’, a young kid (whose voice sounds suspiciously like Rae but switched up and we have seen Rae do this sort of thing before – remember Clyde Smith?) puts Rae on to a service where he can get his enemies taken out for a small fee. 02-Andra-Day-wim-crop-bb31-kdln3-billboard-1548

In ‘M&N’, Rae and P.U.R.E. go bar for bar on some Grid Iron Rap style. Then Andra Day provides her vocals on the 2017 dedication to the incarcerated in ‘Visiting Hour’.

‘The Reign’ is Raekwon’s new victory championship belt anthem. the production on this is epic and sounds like Rae raided the Maybach Music studios and put the beats to good use. Then Rae brings more soul and that feel good factor as he puts the ‘Crown of Thorns’ on his head.

G-Eazy looks like a fan whose wish of rhyming with his long time idol come true. He’s on point in ‘Purple Brick Road’ when he states that 20 years from now he would be still rock the purple tape. Go back a bit into the track and the production intensifies in glorious fashion.

However was the Chef being a bit too experimental here? ‘You Hear Me’ sounds out-of-place, could have passed as a bonus track, or a track where Rae edited out the trap artists that may have featured with him. Granted Rae rhymed over the trap sounding beat with ease, it’s not something he should do often, or better still, kept off this album – it really doesn’t suit the body of work which is presented here.

That’s the only mis-step on The Wild, otherwise this is a massive improvement over the last offering. If you imagined Raekwon as a stand alone artist and Wu-Tang did not exist, this is the album that reflects that imagination. Even Lil Wayne’s appearance is not a factor (remember Nas & Damian Marley’s Distant Relatives?) Raekwon has finally hit his stride as far as a non-Wu endorsed offering.

The time is still running on Cuban Linx 3, but for now, this is a nice album to take minds away from the WWE-like nonsense they call ‘beef’ that’s happening currently.

 

 

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DE LA SOUL LIVE @O2 Insitute, BIRMINGHAM – MARCH 3, 2017!

WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. OF RePPiN4U

HISTORY IN THE MAKING.

At this time, I feel bad for the people who did not make this show. I shouldn’t, but I do. In the early part of this decade, De La Soul were teasing signs of a long-awaited return to give fans that well needed fresh air… first the Dilla EP, then they had their ‘tribute’ to the Wu-Tang Clan, which I had to put in quotes because it was the true tribute, but was overshadowed by a certain Canadian light-skinned, high-pitched voice artist whose unnamedso-called tribute was about checking a girl in a club (??????) and wanted to ‘controller’ from the ‘Hotline Bling’. Then they proved that they still ‘God It’ with Nas. South Park poked fun at the Kickstarter concept, but one good thing came out of it – De La Soul’s new album ‘And The Anonymous Nobody’. What do you think was going to come next? An impending tour.

The news broke about the tour in the later months of 2016… yeah you know, that year which was ridden with celebrity deaths, the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and the end of the Obama era going into the Trump era. So many people caught up in all of that, and De La Soul were more concerned about coming to the UK. I rephrase the opening statement. a part of me feels bad for those who did not make the show…

De La Soul arrived on British shores, and met a woman with bad wind whose name was ‘Doris’. They are used to hurricanes, rain hail snow and earthquakes… they were not about to be fazed by someone named DORIS????

Entering the sold out O2 institute a little before 8:15pm and Jungle Brown took the stage for a lengthy 45 minute set, which was well deserved because these guys had an impressive track record of artist openings. The likes of Big Daddy Kane and Ghostface Killah to name a few is more of a who’s who. Performing their big tunes including H.I.S.T.O.R.Y, their style complemented the main attraction and the audience without having to pull out the secret weapon of the crowd cheering along to the disapproval of mumble rap.

In between sets was very unusual, there was no DJ in between to keep the crowd hype for 30 minutes while waiting on the arrival of the trio. The weird thing about that was the 30 minutes flew by, well at least in my mind.

Not a second after 9:30pm, DJ Strike takes the turntables and announces that DJ Maseo was not in effect which was a shame, but Posdnous and Dave jumped on stage!

NOTE TO SELF: ALWAYS BUY A STANDING TICKET. EVEN IF YOU HAVE PHYSICAL DIFFICULTIES.

Performing their signature hits such as ‘Oooh’, ‘Much More’ and ‘Stakes Is High’, they took a moment to stop and acknowledge the six people sitting upstairs and ridiculed them all in good fun. Now while I found this entertaining and hilarious as did everybody else, I seem to recall a certain ‘college dropout’ who was associated with a woman who engaged in carnal activity and put it out for the world to see, getting cursed out by social media for doing the same thing.  Just goes to show what we are like behind our devices.

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Photo courtesy of Mr Keyes

Another great highlight was Pos & Dave acknowledging J Dilla, Phife Dawg and Sean Price, but they feel the same way as Busta Rhymes when they proclaim why we as people appreciate people more after they gone rather than while they are here. Busta said that and I agree 100-1000! Unless I’m a true fan of someone I’m not quick to throw YouTube videos all over my timeline when somebody returns to the essence!

HISTORY ABOUT TO UNFOLD…

However Birmingham was not ready for the element of surprise and maybe the biggest highlight of the night. Just after performing a verse or two of ‘Buddy’, Pos & Dave big up all their fellow Native Tongues. Unknowing to most, Black Sheep Dres was lying in wait! Birmingham is not used to surprise guests coming through to blaze the stage. Usually that honor goes to London or Manchester. In a capacity crowd full of people of all ages, it was the 40 and over portion of the crowd in complete disbelief and comprehending who they are witnessing on stage performing their favourite hits. When it came to ‘The Choice is Yours’ however…the younger portion of the audience were about to be schooled…

For 20 years, I had been clubbing, and the DJs would always play the same tired songs, particularly that Faith Evans/FatMan Scoop track. Easily top 5 all-time club classic yet annoying track. On this day, I was proud to see the younger audience finally realising that the voice behind ‘Engine Engine #9’ was standing in front of them and bringing the true essence. Yes it might have took them a moment to realise the part with FatMan Scoop asks

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Photo courtesy of Mr Keyes

‘who’s f**k!n tonight’ was not coming! Dres & De La had the whole capacity crowd laying low anticipating to jump up after ‘pick it up, pick it up!’ during said portion of the song apart from one person with a glaring white coat on who De La single-handedly pointed out in ridicule! This is an old school jam! Not your usual show where all the stars can see on stage were your phones! (Even though that happened too…standard procedure!)

Usually the surprise guest will leave the stage after their moment but not Dres, and De La wouldn’t want it any other way. He became their unofficial hype man for the remainder of the night, but at 10:15pm I don’t know who De La were fooling trying to say goodbye and peace to the crowd after performing ‘Saturday’ and leaving the stage…  nobody budged. De La realised the crowd were not taking the bait and came back out. Finally finishing on ‘Me Myself & I’ and ‘Name & Number’, De La & Dres closed their hour set…

MEMORY OF…(US)

As I constantly hum the track featuring Estelle while gathering my closing thoughts, even if the show went on for another 30 minutes, it would not be enough to cover three decades of great innovative music from De La Soul, so yes, I’m guessing everyone left the O2 Institute with a bittersweet feeling of what track they wanted De La to perform. In my case, being the current purist I am, I wanted to hear at least ‘Pain’ or ‘Royalty Capes’ from the new album. Or ‘I C Y’all’ from AOI. Being as it was a sold out event, I was surprised, disappointed and almost remorseless towards those who couldn’t make it. Yes I feel bad for them but as I write this, the remorse level decreases. On this night, I witnessed history. Two acts for the price of one, and I knew of this show in the closing months of 2016… so to that I say this to quote a De La Soul hook: “If money makes a man strange, we have to re-arrange that…”