Raekwon
Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang


4.5
superb

Review

by Eno USER (34 Reviews)
March 7th, 2011 | 261 replies | 17,344 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang is both a celebration and an innovation; a thrilling synthesis of fresh production techniques and enticing street narratives.

9 of 9 thought this review was well written

Out of the numerous Wu-Tang solo albums, Raekwon's releases have always been the most thematically ambitious. While other front runners of the Wu such as GZA and Ghostface Killah would craft expansive albums that revolved around their signature imagery and huge personalities, no one has been able to so cohesively revolve around a concept as well as Rae. With his debut Only Built For Cuban Linx, he introduced Mafioso terminology and organized crime related themes to hip hop. Not only was the album well-structured in lyrical content, but the entire production fell in sync, with rich, cinematic strings and samples of mafia films found gracefully layered throughout the album. For the following decade, a few duds lacked this stylistic approach, but in 2009 Raekwon came roaring back with his superior sequel Only Built For Cuban Linx 2. This LP reflected all of the drug business scheming and crime found in the first one, but boosted them up with a 21st century confidence and maximized everything that was so great about it.

Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, much like Ghostface's Apollo Kids, is a modernized Wu-Tang release that reflects on the respective member's older works, with street narratives and dark string loops defining the atmosphere of the album. However while Apollo Kids came off as mostly regressive and didn't match to his previous material, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang manages to expand Raekwon's classic sound and competes with some of his best albums. On the forefront, the album is reminiscent of Rae's Cuban Linx work, with amped-up, classic Wu-beats and frequent appearances from Ghostface and Method Man. On each track Raekwon sets cohesive lyrical scenarios, such as his humorous interacting with the kung-fu samples on "Butter Knives: "Who gives a fuck if he's a swordsman, I'm a gun man, I run from nothing". However this time around Raekwon is backed by some of the hugest beats to grace a Wu-Tang record yet. Pummeling drum sounds and dense orchestral soundscapes lay on the forefront, but the producing line-up manages to throw in bigger-than-life samples and powerful synths that retain an organic sound. The way Raekwon manages to perfectly synthesize his lovable old techniques with huge production and a refined, confident flow puts Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang up there with his best work yet.

Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang delves back into Raekwon's growing up in Staten Island, the lyrics revolving around his personal experiences on the streets and dealing with crime(much like the lyrical content found in Wu-Tang classic "C.R.E.A.M."). His glamorous illustration of a possibly dark pre-Wu era gives the album a sense of individualism, less of general Wu-Tang representation and more of a definitive Raekwon album. The album's best moments have Raekwon on his own, enthralling the listener with his signature story-telling over detailed, dark instrumentals. The albums only poor moments lay in a few poorly selected guest spots and the album's ambitious length manages to null these performances. Furthering both his knack for elaborate album concepts and making old qualities seem fresh, the "Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang" shows in the juxtaposition between Rae's down-to-earth hood ramblings(Shaolin) and the huge budgets and reoccurring cinema themes(Wu-Tang). This is best exemplified by the album's magnificent closer "Masters of Our Fate", displaying Rae's most intense narration yet over a string loop reminiscent of his debut. As Raekwon described in an Entertainment Weekly interview, the album shows his "street side challenging the great Wu-Tang" and this conflict gives the album an enticing, fiery element, constantly fusing aspects of the Wu-Empire with a heavier emphasis on a time before there was such thing.

Perhaps the essential question of this album is whether it is a continuation of the Wu-Tang legacy or a contrasting statement to the RZA's famous assertion "Wu-Tang is forever." Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang shows a further progression from the territory marked by Only Built For Cuban Linx 2 and shows Raekwon constantly perfecting and elaborating on old concepts, while bringing in newer and untold elements to his sound. In the long run, Raekwon's new LP once again revive's the Wu Spirit and further pushes his solo artistry, giving more than fan's could ever want or expect.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Enotron
March 7th 2011



7695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

like I would let Deviant stop me from reviewing this

alright better edit and add a summary now

bloc
March 7th 2011



34768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm liking this

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Maniac!
March 7th 2011



26250 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

fixed

couldwinarabbit
March 7th 2011



6996 Comments


what?! I was 100% sure you were staff.

I guess I really need this and great review.

Maniac!
March 7th 2011



26250 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Review rules btw

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2011



7088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

nice review broski

Enotron
March 7th 2011



7695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks dudes, my first review in a while so i hope it came out alright

Maniac!
March 7th 2011



26250 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

It was awesome. If you gave it a 5, it would be the best review ever.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2011



31085 Comments


Motherf$*^!

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Enotron
March 7th 2011



7695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it might read as a five(really loved this, got souped to hype it) however i feel like it could grow more on me

Counterfeit
March 7th 2011



17819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album is sooooo good

couldwinarabbit
March 7th 2011



6996 Comments


Maniac dropping the 5, even though that is an every other day, means I really should get on this.

Hawks
March 7th 2011



35603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I was gonna wait to post my review because I thought I couldn't until tomorrow haha. Oh well, nice review man. And this is Rae's best album and the second best Wu solo album. At least for right now.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales

Psilocyanide
March 7th 2011



1823 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Damn the album's good, but 5s and 4.5s? No way.

Idnuf
March 7th 2011



1491 Comments


Great review, album is fucking magic. Masters of Our Fate is incredible. I totally agree that this is more of a specifically Raekwon album than a Wu-Tang solo effort.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2011



31085 Comments


I hadn't even started writing my one up, at least this will free up some time

Hawks
March 7th 2011



35603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I finished mine a few days ago. I'll probably post it here in about a half hour or so.

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2011



7088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

my biggest complain about the album is that rae has been rapping about the exact same shit since we first heard him. its hard to complain though when it sounds this good

Enotron
March 7th 2011



7695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah my b dev i didn't really notice until i was halfway into this review that you had claimed it, but i dug this too much to stop

what do you think of the album, out of curiosity?

Enotron
March 7th 2011



7695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

my biggest complain about the album is that rae has been rapping about the exact same shit since we first heard him.


really? i mean my review probably stretched it a bit, but i thought it sort of strayed away from the whole mafia, drug-dealing thing. stylistically his rapping sounds the same though.



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