Now obviously most people have different opinions about what they consider to be “good music” or a “good artist,” but I’d be very surprised to find anyone who is a true hip-hop fan and doesn’t fuck with The Chef, Shallah Raekwon. 20 years ago, the Shaolin swordsman comes out of whatever fuckin dojo he’s learned his Wu-Tang style in, drops a debut album that single handedly gives birth to the so-called “Golden Era” of hip hop, and then just lays back in the cut and accrues an exponential increase in respect from the new generation of avid music listeners like myself as we delve into music’s roots. So in a world, where the latest album is only a few clicks away, I’ll still probably head down to Telegraph to cop my own hard copy of the god’s new masterpiece, Shaolin vs Wu-Tang. Word is bond.
Like many people who read this blog, I am a Wu fan. In my opinion, the reason why they have stood the sands of time effortlessly is because of the unparalleled ability of their members to maintain their own original artistic styles. And they mesh so well. You have Ghostface, the womanizing, intrinsically confident, funny-ass story teller. You got, Gza, the mystical, precise lyricist. Method Man is that laid back, blunt smoking, emcee, who’s flow fit’s so perfectly with his individual, gruff laid back rhyme style. Then you got Rza, the magician behind a lot of the eerie Wu-bangers that revolutionized the world of sampling away from the simple drum loops that really made the mid-90’s hip hop scene take off. And Raekwon? He’s just that dude. That wise, aged story-teller, who’s flow will literally take you to the fight scene where he just pulled a gun out of the glove box and shot at this dude he’s been fighting with. The vivid, laid back, story telling setting fits perfect for the way the Chef chooses his beats, crafts his lines, and spits what I’d call an intelligent g’s audio storybook.
It surprises me that after 20 years, the Chef can just return to the kitchen to effortlessly cook up some fuckin dope for his customers. Shaolin vs Wu-Tang’s beats are some of the highest consistent quality to come out of the Wu-Tang camp in quite a while. The way Rae’s voice flows through the dark horns, and saxophone notes gives a listener like me, who thinks way too much into things, some closure to understanding what I can learn from the Wu-Tang. In a world where progression is defined by a buncha dumb bullshit, the purest most undeniably simple progression towards perfection is finding your own style and craft, embracing it, and swagging it the fuck out. Raekwon’s flow, lyrics, and ear for beats is at the level that it is at simply because he has stuck to his guns and developed in individual style for two decades. The effortlessly crafted bangers on this album are testament to that.
I’m postin some of my favorite Wu-slappers off the album, and a few extra gems off of Rae’s monumentally classic debut album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. I’d suggest supporting some truly good music and buying a hard copy of Raekwon’s Shaolin vs Wu-Tang.