As a rule, I don’t really mess with stuff connected to the the Wu-Tang Clan these days unless it’s from The Chef or Ghost, but that “Respect Mine” single that Mathematics dropped a while back was nice (despite being the third song of the same name to use that hook). I didn’t catch the album that was from, but he’s just delivered the follow-up on the Nature Sounds label. The Problem presents a mix of original recipe “older gods” and young upstarts, who suprisingly steal the show more often than not. Understandably, some of the “Protect Ya Neck” squad aren’t sounding as hungry as they once did, which may explain why the usually unstoppable Genius – who still delivers – doesn’t dominate proceedings as he did ten years ago.
T. Slugz (not sure if this is the same Troy Slugz that did that record with Marley Marl and Pete Rock) and Eyeslow caught my ear on the outstanding “C What I C”, which, despite treading familiar ground on some “observations in the neighbourhood” type of shit, is a dope song. “Strawberries and Cream” gets the whole “rap about broads” thing back on track after the uninspired “Ice Cream 2” from Rae’s last effort. Ghost steals the show as usual as he details swinging an episode back in his high school days. “Real Nillaz” also proves to be an effective Wu reunion, while “Break That Break” features a suprise ODB appearence, as he declares “I can take a punch or get hit by a car, or go to the nearest or farthest star” over the “Rising To The Top” loop.
Method Man contributes a couple of tracks, which is good news for whatever fans he still has left, but really only serve to remind me of how annoying he can be. Ali Vegas, who’s been missing in action for a while, also turns up for an energetic cameo. At sixteen tracks, there are a couple of skippable moments (“Coach Talk” and “Two Shots of Henny” in particular), but Math has assembled a nice variety of songs which, despite not straying too far from the blueprint drawn-up by theRZA, still manage to carve-out a distinct musical identity. This results in a project that proves to be essential listening for Shaolin diehards, while still keeping the less dedicated disciples amongst us entertained.
Trivia Extra: According to his bio, Math is also known to get busy with the Krylon, and is actually responsible for designing the world-famous Wu-Tang logo! Not only that, but he used to DJ for Mr. X (of “We Drink Old Gold” fame). It’s unclear if Mathematics was Mr. Z, but either way I had no idea he’s history ran that deep. He also rolled with the Genius during his Cold Killin days, which pretty much dispells any ideas I might have had about him being just another weed carrier for the RZA.
Review copy supplied courtesy of Shogun Distribution.
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