The chef was my favorite dude in Wu Tang when they first dropped. Rae had the swag, the voice, the flow…like I said, he was my dude. C.R.E.A.M. and “Can It Be So Simple” were my 2 favorite tracks off “Enter the 36 Chambers” and to me Wu wouldn’t have been the Wu without Rae. When “Only Built for Cuban Linx” dropped I was literally in awe. The work Rza put in beat wise was flat out amazing and the tag team of Rae and Ghost were hip hop’s equivalent of the NWA’s (National Wrestling Association…not the group) Road Warriors with Rza playing the part of Precious Paul Ellering. Every song they dropped just kept getting better and better. “Glaciers of Ice”, “Criminology”, “Verbal Intercourse” with Nas and Prodigy and to top all of that off with “Ice Cream”!?!?!?
“OBCL” was legendary in my eyes, which is why my anticipation for his follow up was through the roof.
And we ALL know “Immobilarity” didn’t meet ANYONE’S expectations. The only track I even remember off that album was the Pete Rock produced “Sneakers.” And the “Lex Diamond Story” wasn’t much better either. The key ingredient missing from both of those albums was simple…the Rza. The masses kept hearing about “Only Built for Cuban Links 2” but after a while it just became hip hop folklore. By 2008, 13 years after “OBCL” first dropped I gave up all hope for the project and came to the point of just being happy to hear Rae here and there on Ghostface’s projects. But then I finally heard the first single “House of Flying Daggers” featuring Deck, Meth & Ghost and produced by the late, great J Dilla and I was officially riding with my dude again. And the best part of hearing that this project was finally dropping was that Rza was back on board.
We all know how dope “Cuban Linx 2” was, so no need to walk down that street again. But now the chef is back with his 5th solo album “Shaolin vs. Wu Tang” and the follow up to “OBCL 2”, but will history repeat itself? We all know what happened 12 years ago when Rae’s followed up to the original Cuban Linx dropped, and the kicker this time around is Rza’s no where to be found…again.
First things first, let me assure you that “Shaolin vs. Wu Tang” IS NOT “Immobalirty” part 2 which is a GREAT thing. The album sets off with “Shaolin vs. Wu Tang” which basically sets the tone for the rest of the album. “Every Soldier in the Hood” featuring Meth is classic Wu with Meth spitting “they be calling my flow ill, but still I’m never calling in sick, this is Meth Man New York n-ggaz calling me piff, f-ck the cop n-ggaz calling me Cliff, flag me down on the concorse, police dogs all in my whip.” “Silver Rings” with Ghostface is EXACTLY what you would expect from these too and “Snake Ponds” is Rae at his storytelling best. “Crane Style” with Busta Rhymes has them spitting over a Scram Jones beat that could’ve been a part of the Kill Bill score and “Rock n Roll” with Ghostface and Jim Jones is dope but I can’t stand this dude Kobe’s singing…at all! “Last Trip to Scotland” has Lloyd Banks keeping up with the chef verse for verse and “Masters of Our Fate” featuring Philly’s finest Black Thought is the perfect way to the end the album. At the end of the day, I’m just glad I can say that Rae is back on his grizzly, even if the ying to his yang behind the boards is missing.
3.5 outta 5