RELEASED: September 29, 2017, Nature Sounds, Review written by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U & International Rep of Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition
Masta Killa is a man of the people. More specifically, the Wu-Tang fans. He’s that dude that may not come when you call but he’s always on time. He knows what the fans want, and for three albums straight, he has delivered. Fans knew of this album for a good few years now, they expected it to drop in 2012, but instead Masta Killa ‘seemingly changed the title of the album to ‘Selling My Soul’ which was a great project drenched with soulful vibes. The title track ‘Loyalty Is Royalty’ would eventually appear on 9th Wonder’s own project and brought HaLo into the mix, which led to the joint project – ‘Mansa Musa’ which dropped in 2014. This was a nice stop-gap to the true destination which is this album right here. Just like the latest projects from Prodigal Sunn, Rez SPS Kings and the Clan themselves, this album couldn’t have come at a better time.
Ming-Hsueh Lin provides the album’s intro, which is a calm but deadly melody, those traits are often used to describe the clan’s laid back but machete wielding member, before diving into a good ol’ boom bap banger ‘Return Of Thee Masta Kill’ with Cappadonna & Young Dudas. Now here’s a guy who has the word ‘Young’ before his name and is a dope MC. So heads take notes, just because somebody has ‘Young’ or ‘Lil’ before their name does not necessarily mean they are wack!
Moving into the album’s title track as mentioned earlier, was brought into existence five years ago, but still sounds as fresh as ever. This is the original version without HaLo, and sees Masta Killa refer to Loyalty as his woman so the track can be taken as a double meaning.
In ‘Therapy’, Masta & Method Man feel the same way as we do as regards to being around this music, and Redman has really molded in well with the clan. 10 years ago, I would laugh at people who said Redman was an official member… I cannot give the same kind of response now.
One thing that is admirable about Masta Killa (and the rest of the clan for that matter) is that these guys are headed for their 50s, and yet, they always have high praise for the Older Gods. Respecting their elders is a powerful trait which must be upheld, such as what this Dame Grease produced single suggests.
RZA chimes in to break down the meaning of Loyalty is Royalty. Let’s hope Phonte of Little Brother doesn’t hear this interlude, as his imitation of RZA in ‘The Story of US’ parody project was one of the most hilarious things ever recorded.
Consider the next track as what I like to call a ‘counteraction’ of Shyheim’s track of the same name. 9th Wonder flips the track ‘Trouble’ slows it down to match the pace of the 9th member of the bunch’s flow.
Masta Killa’s Skit is cruel. It feels so good to have True Master behind the boards, but with it being a minute long, it leaves you begging for more verses. It’s like being on a cooking show or wine tasting show and you can only have one bite.
This is such an album highlight, another Wu Camp Clik or Camp Wu Banga, Sean Price & Masta Killa connect on a 9th Wonder scorcher in ‘Down with Me’. Fans can now practically take these collaborations and create their own playlist on iTunes. Wu-Tang and Boot Camp need to stop the teasing and create that crossover album. Failing that, I sincerely hope Masta Killa convinces Ghostface Killah – ‘executive producer’ of the next Wu album to get 9th Wonder on the production team.
The next track is begging for the visual treatment… Tiger & The Mantice featuring GZA & Inspectah Deck sees producer Blocade tapping into the Wu-Tang sound. When these three get together on a track it is just pure magic. Wu-Massacre 2 anyone? YES PLEASE!
You want more gunplay? Masta Killa will be more than happy to oblige. This time featuring Prodigy & KXNG Crooked in ‘Real People’. Prodigy shows once again why he was far from ready to return to the essence and KXNG Crooked is an unlikely feature to say the least but it works.
If the previous three albums from Masta Killa has taught us anything, is that he will go outside the box and surprise you. ‘Flex With Me’ featuring Chanel Sosa samples from the classic Scarface movie and flips Mad Cobra’s ‘Flex’ and this goes down really well. With
this and ‘Lovely Lady’ from made In Brooklyn, it makes me want to pick Masta Killa’s brains as far as his love for reggae dancehall. Where this was a hit, the next track is a miss. ‘Calculated’ should be called ‘Mis-Calculated’ because this is Masta Killa’s attempt of making a club track with that ‘trap feel to it’ and it just doesn’t work. It also goes on a bit too long as well. At least there is no mumbling. Oh wait… there’s the hook… I stand corrected.
However The High Chief Jamel Irief makes up for that and goes deeper into his Wu Gambino alias – Noodles in a two-part story, the first part produced by !llmind and the second part produced by Masta Killa himself which sees a smooth, moonlight backdrop. With a nice applause at the end, the album ends with a somber piano tone by Ming-Hsueh Lin.
From this point forward, call Masta Killa Mr 2nd Most Consistent member of the clan. (Next to Ghostface Killah). Even with that ‘Calculated mis-step’, it’s understandable that veterans would want to jump on a beat like that to attract newer audiences and show them how it’s done. The most glaring difference between this and it’s predecessors are the album’s producers and features. This time around it seems more star-studded and not just Wu appearances. Masta Killa should find his crown and fix it on his head because it is rightfully deserved.