Raekwon: The Wild:: Review

After the intro skit, The Wild kicks off with “This is what its Come To.” A track that sounds straight out of a late night recording session with Mobb Deep circa 1995. It invites us into the record with safe and familiar beats and styles before jumping off into all kinds of directions. The Chef himself boasts, “ Ain’t no words to describe my rhyme.” A lovable proclamation from an undeniably talented wordsmith, presented with no irony at all. He, cannot, put into words how dope his flow is. A conundrum for a rapper. But one we forgive Raekwon for, considering his lyrics and flow ALWAYS deliver, whether on his albums, Wu Tang, or guest spots.

“Nothing” rumbles on the downbeat. It feels a bit like Common, but rougher around the lyrical edges. The usual Chef themes are cooking; pot, lyrical and talent superiority, and social consciousness. (Extra credit awarded for working “pillbilly” into a rhyme.)“Marvin” is a tribute to Marvin Gaye, relying heavily on samples of his signature seventies sound circa “What’s Going On.” It’s a respectful biographical account of a misunderstood and often misrepresented genius. The Chef has no problem telling the story as it happened. With a surprisingly reserved, controlled, and wholly appropriate contribution from CeeLo Green, the tune holds the soul of the subject in high regard and delivers a fitting tribute.

“My Corner” with Lil Wayne promises in the opening bars, “ Its about to gets real loud and vulgar in here.” They aren’t lying. “Visiting Hour” is a touching, but “the truth hurts” exploration of the perpetual cycles of violence and incarceration in society. With a guest spot by the incomparable rising star, Andra Day, the track is the emotional centerpiece. Raekwon rhymes “ Some are still taking penitentiary chances” and warns, “25 to life is real, so is the casket closing on you.” It’s a plea for everyone to do his or her part to end violence. Rappers who’ve escaped the economic worlds this violence dominates often fall under scrutiny for exploiting the situation on their albums for gain while living a much better life. Raekwon is more genuine. Truth is truth.

Partially unremarkable, partially predictable, but ultimately bold and strong when and where it needs to be, “The Wild” is one of the best Wu efforts of any kind in a couple years. Raekwon the Chef proves again he CAN, and WILL, deliver whatever the people are hungry for.

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