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This album was released on August 1st in 1995. This is widely regarded as one of the greatest Hip Hop albums of all time. When people are recommending quintessential Hip Hop albums, this one is mentioned every single time. It’s still considered by most to be the best solo album from any of the Wu-Tang Clan members. There are a fuck ton of classic songs on here. I’ve never listened to this album before, but I’ve heard about seven tracks from it. I’ve been looking forward to this moment for a LONG ass time. Honestly, this should’ve been one of the first classic album reviews I ever did, but I knew I wanted to do a Wu-Tang marathon, so I kinda put it off. I’m really excited to finally be hearing this. This is gonna be awesome. Every track is produced by RZA.
Track 1: Striving For Perfection
Alright, this is just an intro skit. Ghostface is talking to Raekwon. I just listened to the whole thing. This shit is like a movie. They’re planning to move some SERIOUS weight. After they sell these bricks they’re gonna be loaded like Warren Buffett, so this is the last time. This shit is about to be so fucking dope.
Track 2: Knuckleheadz Feat. Ghostface Killah & U-God
Lmao. Ghost just threatened to “smack fire out your fuckin’ ass.” Rae was dividing up the money and he tried to give himself more than everyone else. Alright, now Raekwon’s goin’ in on the first verse. Goddamn. Lmao. “Lay on the crime scene, sipping fine wines, pulling nines on / UFOs taking they fly clothes; they eyes closed / We getting loot, no doubt, check the word of mouth / Unheard about, guns go off in our murder route.” I’m so glad I’m finally listening to this. This is awesome. His fucking flow and this rhyme scheme sound so fucking smooth. This verse is better than anything he did on Tical and Return To The 36 Chambers. This motherfucker is rhyming his goddamn ass off. “We like Meth to go and fuck with Noodles / Having them poodles on the lockdown, buying me Amarettos and chewables / Smacking pharmaceutical; rap niggas on dust and woos.” This beat is dope. Jesus fucking Christ. This verse is incredible. Bruh… Okay, I loved Raekwon on 36 Chambers, but THIS shit is on another level. “Word to mama, this rap wonder rhymer team got drama / Comma, blunt smoke real ass marijuana / Chef Maranzano boats across the Verrazano.” He fucking slaughtered that first verse. Good lord. This is how you open a fucking album up. Alright, Ghost is next up. Holy fuck. “Here’s his photograph / Run up in his lab, take off the mask, Chaz, and think fast / Don’t laugh; bag the cash, grab the hash, don’t forget his stash / Grab the tear gas, and place it in his face fast at full blast.” This song is like a dream come true. Bruuuuh… Yo… Ghost fucking ripped this verse to shreds. Wow. Honestly, his verse was even fuckin’ better than Rae’s. The way he carried that rhyme scheme was fucking amazing. Jesus. Even fuckin’ U-God came through with a great verse. This song is fucking phenomenal. I love this shit. It’s dope af. 5/5
Track 3: Knowledge God
Holy fuck. Lmao. I’m so fucking happy right now. RZA. Dude is a fucking genius. This beat is amazing. It sounds like Raekwon’s rapping directly to one of his homies. The first verse was awesome. In the second verse he describes how he wet up this real tough Italian dude that you wouldn’t wanna mess with. You know, I’ve never been a super huge fan of the whole Mafioso Rap thing, but this is REALLY fuckin’ good. The hook is dope. RZA fuckin’ put his ass in this beat. I fuck with this. The beat is fantastic, and Rae killed this shit. This is dope af. 5/5
Track 4: Criminology Feat. Ghostface Killah
This is one of the songs I’ve heard before, but it’s been a really long time since I heard it, so I don’t really remember much about it. I’m sure it’ll come back to me once it starts. Oh okay yeah, I remember this beat. This shit is so fuckin’ hard. Ghostface’s fucking flow is ruthless on this first verse. I love how aggressive his delivery is. Holy mother of fuck. I forgot how fucking insane this verse is. He fucking spazzed on this shit. “Extravagant; RZA bakes the track and it’s militant / Then I react like a convict, and start killing shit / It’s manifested, the Gods work like appliances / Dealing in my cypher I revolve around sciences.” This is crazy. His verse was awesome. Rae’s verse was fucking great too. “The witty unpredictable live shit, drive by shit / Do or die shit; I’ll take your lye and shit.” This is probably my favorite song so far. They were just spittin’ so fuckin’ cold on this track man. I love it. This is dope af to me. 5/5
Track 5: Incarcerated Scarfaces
This is another track I’ve heard before. The beat is fucking legendary. This is my favorite song so far. As a song, this just sounds more complete to me than anything else so far. That’s not to say that the previous tracks were undercooked or anything, but this one just has a much more traditional structure. The first verse is great. “My thug-related style attracts millions fans / They understand my plan; who’s the kid up in the green Land? / Me and the RZA connect, blow a fuse, you lose / Half-ass crews get demolished and bruised.” This… Well… Raekwon is a really fuckin’ good rapper. Lol. I mean, I know that goes without saying, but… I mean… I felt like I should say it anyway. The way he’s rapping is so fucking impressive, and he claims that this entire song was written in 15 minutes. “Guess who’s the black Trump?” Damn… That’s an unfortunate metaphor lol. He went fucking crazy on this second verse. He absolutely slaughtered that shit. “You got guns? Got guns too; what up, son / Do you wanna battle for cash and see who sons who? / I probably wax, tax, smack rap niggas / Who fax niggas’ lyrics is wack, nigga.” BRUUUUH. Lmao. This dude is gettin’ fuckin’ busy on this shit. TALK THAT SHIT, RAE. “I move rhymes like retail; make sure shit sell / From where we at to my man’s cell / From staircase to stage / Minimun wage, but soon to get a article in Rap Page.” His flow is fucking relentless on this track. I LIVE FOR THIS SHIT. This song is dope af. 5/5
Track 6: Rainy Dayz Feat. Ghostface Killah & Blue Raspberry
I know I’ve heard this song before, but I don’t really remember it at all. Oh shiiit… Lmao. Yo, I fucking love how they always have Blue Raspberry singing these creepy ass hooks. Her contribution to Mr. Sandman by Method Man was fucking awesome. I’m not really crazy about this one in particular, but it’s not bad. “It’s raining, he’s changing / My man is going insane.” This beat is fantastic. God, I love RZA’s production. Ghostface is on the first verse. This is so fucking dope. He’s rapping about how he’s searching for ways to get to that sweet, sweet nectar. “On rainy days I sit back and count ways on / How to get rich, son; show and prove, ask my bitch / Stood up late nights, build with my a-alikes / We can pull a heist, snatch ice, or rock mics.” Raekwon killed that second verse. I love the way he ended it. This is definitely my least favorite song so far, but it’s still really fuckin’ good. I fuck with this. It’s dope. 4/5
Track 7: Guillotine (Swordz) Feat. Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah & GZA
Aaawwwww shit. Okay, HERE we fucking go. I fucking love this song. The first time I heard it was on that episode of The Boondocks where Huey’s fighting “The Blind Nigga Samurai.” The beat is fucking incredible. This is probably one of my favorite beats of all time to be honest. Let’s talk about this fucking verse from INS tho… Good fucking lord… This man fucking OBLITERATED that shit. Seriously, this verse is fucking incredible. “First to criticize, but now they have become mentally paralyzed / With hits that I devise / Now I testify, the rest is I, Rebel INS, Your Highness; blessed to electrify / With voltage of a eel, truth that I reveal / Will crush the amateurs who scream they keep it real.” God I fucking love this shit. I love the way he builds up to the verse by just saying “POISONOUS” too. This song is so fucking cool. Every MC on this track killed their verse, but INS fucking set this shit on fire, man. He definitely had my favorite verse. Ghostface’s verse was dope af too. “My career’s based on guns throwing cats in wheelchairs / Et cetera; damage any lame ass competitor / Who try to front, get broken in fast like leathers / Whatever hot hardheads get shattered like mirrors / Beretta shots splatter your goose, scatter your feathers.” This is kind of an obvious point, but the old kung fu movie samples sound so fucking cool on this shit. Fuck, man. It’s gonna be so fucking hard for me to choose a favorite song off this album. Raekwon’s verse was dope af. “My Clan done ran from Japan to Atlanta with stamina / Slingers and gamblers and gram handlers / Tical light the Owl cigar, let’s get steamed / Infra-red guard your beam, so seek ‘nough respect.” This shit is so fucking crazy. LISTEN TO THESE MOTHERFUCKERS RAP. They’re so fuckin’ gangsta, and there are so many of them, and they can ALL fucking spit. Just imagine if people in the mainstream rapped like this today. Shit is amazing, man. GZA’s verse was fucking awesome too. This whole fucking song is just on another level, man. These fools were rapping like their life depended on it. “The nigga don’t get mad, I got mad styles of my own / And it’s shown when my hands grip the chrome microphone / Verbally I catch bodies with cordless shotties / Intriguing MCs; I keep em trained like potties.” This song is fucking incredible. God I fucking love Wu-Tang lmao. This is dope af. 5/5
Track 8: Can It Be All So Simple (Remix) Feat. Ghostface Killah
Okay, this song starts with a skit in which Rae & Ghost try to fuck up some dude who’s sellin’ dope on their block. Shit gets heated, and they end up shooting at each other. From what I heard, it sounds like they killed the dude, but Ghost got shot. He’s not dead or anything tho. He’s just bleeding. Not really sure what’s gonna happen to him. I don’t know what the plan is. The actual song’s starting now. This beat is awesome. It’s an altered version of the beat from the original song, and it’s different enough to make it feel like a brand new track. This feels more like a sequel than a remix. Ghostface’s verse at the beginning was great. It picks up right where the skit ended, and he goes on to describe what happened after he got shot. “Stumbling, holding my neck to the God’s rest / Opened flesh burgundy blood colored my Guess / Emergency trauma; black teen headed for surgery / Can it be an out of state nigga tried to murder me?” Hmm… I’m not crazy about this hook to be honest. I mean, the hook itself isn’t bad, but the samples that come in don’t really mesh very well. It just sounds really discordant. Raekwon’s verse was pretty good. “Remember I got blasted, now that’s in the past, kid / God forbid I lay in the casket / But now I’m all about G-notes; no time for weed mixed with coke / I wash my mouth out with soap.” I like this song, but the hook really took away from my enjoyment. It’s definitely my least favorite track so far, but I still fuck with it. This is dope to me. 4/5
Track 9: Shark Niggas (Biters)
This entire track is just a conversation between Ghostface Killah & Raekwon about how much they hate biters. Lmao. “Nah, son, let me tell these niggas something, God… I don’t want niggas sounding like me on NO album. You know what I’m saying? For real ’cause Ima approach a nigga man. For real man, I don’t want nobody sounding like me, man.” It’s pretty ironic that Ghostface would say that because… Well… You know… I mean, it’s impossible to listen to this track and not immediately think of Action Bronson. I usually find skits like this unnecessary, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find it entertaining.
Track 10: Ice Water Feat. Ghostface Killah & Cappadonna
Alright. We got Cappadonna here now… Okay, so Cappadonna was actually supposed to be an original member of the Wu-Tang Clan, but he ended up getting incarcerated, so they put Method Man in his place. After he came back they got him to rap on tracks like these, and they eventually added him to the group. This song is starting now. This beat is dope af. The sample sounds really similar to the one that Paul White flipped for Lost by Danny Brown. Ghostface is on the first verse. I love how aggressive his flow and delivery are. That along with this dope ass beat makes this a really hard hitting track. “The God’s tropical, ladies call me black fruit punch / Rainbow flavor niggas murder niggas for lunch.” I don’t know what the fuck a “rainbow flavor nigga” is, but the shit sounded dope af. Cappadonna’s on the second verse. His flow is smooth as hell. Oh. He dropped an F bomb. Nice. That’s not the first F bomb on this album tho. Stuff like that is to be expected unfortunately. I liked his verse aside from that. The last verse from Raekwon was fucking awesome. He definitely had the best verse. “Yo back in the days, bagging cracks, scraping plates, flipping cakes / Who them heavy head niggas hating Jakes? / It be us; wall to wall soldiers hanging in halls getting over / City niggas shoot for blood money rocking Rovers.” Oh shit. Lmao. There was a shootout in Bennigan’s. Hahaha. “Eating good, had to shoot my way up out of Bennigan’s.” I don’t know why that’s funny to me. Every time I think about Bennigan’s it reminds me of Butters from South Park because that’s his favorite restaurant. Why the fuck am I talking about this? I really fuck with this track. It’s dope af. 5/5
Track 11: Glaciers Of Ice Feat. Masta Killa & Ghostface Killah
This track opens up with a long ass skit in which Ghostface is telling him about dyeing his shoes. It’s not really worth discussing. This beat is dope af. It has the same sound effect that was used in the Guillotine beat. The first verse from Raekwon was great. “For real from the Killah Hill locked and caged in / We’re sworn representatives, we acting like made men / Strive for wives, nine lives, and lies / Max, sell and enjoy the highs.” I love the fast paced hook too. Masta Killa killed this shit. “Mental gives the signal to the physical / Whirlwind kicks and hits from every angle / Violent temperaments left continents dented / Poison vintage wine rhymes I invented.” I know he’s one of the least popular members of the Wu-Tang Clan, but I actually think Masta Killa is really fucking dope. He just doesn’t really get a lot of shine for whatever reason. Fuck, man. Ghostface just ripped through this shit. I love his vicious flow and delivery all over this album. He snapped on this shit. I definitely fuck with this track. This is dope af. 5/5
Track 12: Verbal Intercourse Feat. Nas & Ghostface Killah
Aaawwwww shit. Lmao. HERE WE FUCKIN’ GO. NAS. 1995. YES. I’M SO FUCKIN’ READY. It’s starting now. Oh. My. God. HAHAHAHA. HOLY FUUUCK. BRUH. NAS. NASIR FUCKING JONES. I LOVE THIS DUDE SO FUCKING MUCH. “Through the lights, cameras, and action, glamour, glitters, and gold / I unfold the scroll, plant seeds to stampede the globe / When I’m deceased, by then the beast arise like yeast / To conquer peace leaving savages to roam in the streets.” This verse is fucking LYRICAL EXTERMINATION. He annihilated this shit. “Live on the run, police paying me to give in my gun / Trick my wisdom with the system that imprisoned my son.” Man… I need to hurry up and finish that Nas Marathon. This verse almost makes me wanna stop listening to this album just to go listen to more of Nas’ shit. “It’s like a cycle, niggas come home, some’ll go in / Do a bullet, come back, do the same shit again / From the womb to the tomb, presume the unpredictable / Guns salute life rapidly; that’s the ritual.” This shit is incredible. Man… An entire Nas album produced by RZA would be better than sex. Alright, Raekwon’s next up. I just listened to his verse. It was fucking great. I’m still tryna recuperate from that monstrous, paralysis inducing verse from Nas. Ghostface did his thing. His verse was long as hell, and it was really dope, but I was kinda underwhelmed by his flow to be honest. Nas got this one. He controlled this shit. I fucking love this track. This is dope af to me. 5/5
Track 13: Wisdom Body Feat. Ghostface Killah
This beat is dope af. Ghost is about to go in. Fuuck. This is so fucking dope. He’s rapping about how he came up to this THICC girl on the beach and tried to get with her. Oh shit. That’s it. The song just ended. This is a Ghostface Killah song. That’s cool. I guess. It really feels more like an interlude than a full song tho. I enjoyed this song, but it’s definitely not on the same level as most of the other tracks. It’s still good tho. I fuck with it. This is dope. 4/5
Track 14: Spot Rusherz
This song starts with a LONG ass conversation between Ghost & Rae. I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t listening to what they said. I don’t really give a shit about that. The conversation lasts over 50 fucking seconds. Why. WHY. That’s really gonna hurt the replay value for this shit. The beat is cool tho. Damn. Raekwon’s flow on this track is awesome. Okay, he’s telling a really detailed story about how he’s tryna rob this guy from out of state. I just listened to the whole song. It’s really fuckin’ dope. “Threw the nine in his meatloaf / ‘Yo, where’s the cash and the stash that’s mixed?‘ / ‘I don’t know‘ / Shot his hand, he started screaming like a bitch.” That’s how the song ends. It’s really abrupt. I really like this track, but it’s heavily flawed. The most obvious issue with this track is the long winded intro skit. It really kills the replay value. I guess that’s really my problem with the track. I also wasn’t as impressed by this beat as I was by a lot of the other tracks, and I thought the song ended a little too abruptly, but those are honestly just nitpicks. I fuck with this song. It’s dope. 4/5
Track 15: Ice Cream Feat. Method Man, Ghostface Killah & Cappadonna
Okay, here we go. This is another legendary song. This beat is iconic. It’s kinda weird that they’d use such a dark sounding beat considering this track’s content. Lyrically, this is pretty much the same as Wisdom Body. Raekwon’s verse was cool. Man… I really don’t like this song as much as I wish I did. I love the production, but the subject matter just… Well… You know. I don’t find music like this very interesting. I honestly really only fuck with this sonically. Cappadonna’s verse was disgusting… I don’t even really like the hook from Method Man. “They want their titties SUCKED.” I know this is blasphemous, but this is definitely one of my least favorite tracks so far. The only thing that saves it for me is the beat. I do like the song. Only sonically tho. It’s dope. 4/5
Track 16: Wu-Gambinos Feat. Method Man, RZA, Masta Killa & Ghostface Killah
This is ANOTHER song with a long ass skit at the beginning. This one’s even longer than the one from Spot Rusherz. This beat is really fuckin’ good. Meth did his thing on the hook. I’m glad he actually got a verse on this track. It was dope. The second verse from Raekwon was great. “Designed for rhyme crime nigga jail time jiggas / Them niggas up in hype Vigors lighting niggas.” Holy fuck. That verse from the RZA was fucking awesome. I love this dude. He has an amazing voice for Hip Hop in my opinion. His flow was really fuckin’ dope too. “The grand exquisite imperial wizard / Or is it The RZArector come to pay your ass a visit?” Masta Killa’s verse was pretty good. I wasn’t crazy about his flow at first, but it got better as the song progressed. Ghostface fuckin’ killed it. Him and the RZA had my favorite verses. I definitely fuck with this track. It’s dope af. 5/5
Track 17: Heaven & Hell Feat. Ghostface Killah
Oh wow. This beat is fucking phenomenal. This was sampled in the song Wavybone by A$AP Rocky. This shit is smooth as fuck. I definitely like this beat more than that of Wavybone. It sounds rougher here. Holy fuck I’m tired as shit right now. It’s 3:32 AM. I just listened to the whole song. This review would probably be better if I wrote it at a reasonable hour, but I really just wanna get it done now. Okay, so I really loved how Ghost & Raekwon were trading bars with each other on this song. This was pretty much the perfect way to end the album. I mean, it’s technically not the last song, but the next one is a bonus track, so this is the official ending. This is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album. The beat is incredible, and I loved the way they were rhymin’ together. This is dope af. 5/5
Track 18: North Star (Jewels)
Raekwon’s talking to Popa Wu on the intro right now. The beat sounds really cool. Ol’ Dirty Bastard is singing in the background. He’s not doing it in a super weird way tho. He’s actually singing a proper melody. Oh man… When the percussion comes in and Raekwon starts rapping… This shit is awesome. The beat is dope af. The verse from Raekwon was really dope. He told a story about how his friend who is in prison’s wife got killed, so he’s getting revenge for his homie. I wish my friends were that loyal smh… Anyway, this is another fantastic song. I loved the production, and the story Rae told was great. This is dope af to me. 5/5
This album is fucking amazing. I don’t really think there’s a need for any explanation on why this album is so highly regarded. It’s just really that fucking good. It’s a collection of amazing beats, with Raekwon and other Wu-Tang members rapping their fuckin’ asses off. Seriously, these guys… Well… They’re just really fucking good rappers. They aren’t just a gang of random street dudes that decided they wanted to make music one day. They’re all talented poets who clearly put a lot of effort into their work. You know why I think this album is so amazing to me? You can tell they actually tried. They were really trying to write the best verses they possibly could. It doesn’t seem like mainstream artists do that these days. These motherfuckers were really rhyming tho. If any album sounded even remotely similar to this project today, there’s absolutely no fucking way that it could come from a popular, mainstream artist. Even Kendrick wouldn’t make this kind of Hip Hop album. I’m not talking about the whole Mafioso Rap thing. The subject matter has nothing to do with it. Kendrick focuses on making complete, well structured songs. This album is just a bunch of dangerous MC’s spazzing over grimy beats from one of the greatest producers of all time. Both of these approaches to Hip Hop music are completely acceptable. I personally have no preference. I just wish it was more balanced today. I want more stuff like this in 2017. I wanna hear more rappers just going the fuck off over great beats. You don’t need to write a super catchy hook or have a melodic delivery. Just rap well. Oh shit. Sorry for getting sidetracked. Anyway, there’s really not much else to say. It’s a bunch of incredible beats, and a bunch of amazing verses. What more could you want? This album is dope af.
Favorite Song: Guillotine
Least Favorite Song: Ice Cream
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Legenedary album always heard it from my dad when I was little I had to check it out this year and I never looked back lmao.
My favorite album OAT. I can play this thing front-to-back anytime. So many classic songs, and verses, along with RZA’s flawless production. This is Raekwon’s Illmatic, and it’s sad he couldn’t top it.
Favorite track: Glaciers of Ice (Favorite track OAT)
Least favorite: Lol you’re funny
Some additional reading for you.
Here are some Black kingpins/Incarcerated Scarface’s whose exploits probably helped inspire Raekwon and Ghostface during this album.
(Time for some extra history/info).
If you notice Raekwon and Ghost use various references to the 5 Percent Nation (due to them being heavily involved with this militant sect of The Nation Of Islam from ’93-’99ish).
Shark N**@z is about the Notorious B.I.G. and Puffy whom Rae and Ghost had beef due to in their eyes BIG/Junior M.A.F.I.A./Bad Boy/Puff we’re biting their style (which in turn would make De La Soul diss all of New York’s Mafiaso rappers examples include. Fat Joe/Big Pun/Terror Squad, Nas, BIG & Junior M.A.F.I.A., and Rae & Ghost as De La would claim that all these dudes should stop talking about being Dons and talk about more “constructive” music instead of music that was destructive and negative.) And what’s even more awkward about “Biters” is Meth was cool with BIG (Meth was the only non Bad Boy artist on BIG’s Ready To Die tour.)
Funny thing is Wu Tang did indeed run with mobsters from the Gambino Crime Family (which later the FBI would try to pin racketeering/gun trafficking charges on, but the investigation went nowhere.)
For the past 22 years, this album has held up excellently (I absolutely love the whole project and would give it a 9.5/10 on my personal scale.) Next to Bone Thugs E. 1999 Eternal, 2pac’s Me Against The World, DJ Quik’s Safe + Sound, and Dogg Pound’s Dogg Food it’s one of the greatest album’s of 1995.
Peace Brutha. Great Job!