Thursday, September 24, 2009

Top Chef

Raekwon the chef is back with his fourth album and he serves us up something marvelous. This album takes me back to the days when I used to memorize lyrics for entire albums, taking my walkman or CD player everywhere I went. It makes me nostalgic for late nights in New York watching The Bridge, Ralph McDaniels' video and hip-hop culture show on NYC TV, which was the last time I saw Raekwon. He was back from a trip to Africa, just having played a show in Sierra Leone, wearing a dashiki and dropping jems about Blood Diamonds, among other things. And it makes me realize that after 14 years and some inconsistent releases in between, it's possible for artists to find their voice again. This album is a return to form for Raekwon, referencing back to his classic, first album of the same name. Remember Incarcerated Scarfaces? Remember Ice Cream?! With production by top-tier pro-tools pros RZA, Dr. Dre, J Dilla, Pete Rock, Marley Marl(!), Erick Sermon(!!), Alchemist and Allah Mathematics among others, there is some real strong musical material here.

Raekwon says that he was lucky enough to hook up with Dilla before he passed away, and together they made some of the more killer tracks on this album. Old School legend Marley Marl flips the JJ Band sample that Lord Finesse flipped (and OC killed) many years ago. Dre does his best East Coast style. And for the last song on the album, Lou Diamonds interpolates "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" to take us home. Lyrically, Rae, the ever-present Ghostface, and extended family like Beanie Siegel spend most of their time building narratives about pushing drugs, comparing themsleves to lobster, calamari and rigatone' and generally spitting something nasty, all while extending the beauty of metaphor and language.

22 tracks of super solid gold.

Now go out and buy the album.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Now I'm gonna! and I'm gonna get me an elmo in overalls too.