Raekwon – The Wild
Boom bap is back with one of the Wu’s premier members merging New York’s patented bumps and beats with more luxurious production fitting of the FILA (Fly International Luxurious Art) aficionado. Alongside just a handful of features Raekwon presents street tales and wisdom with his same dexterity and gruffness, albeit from a top down perspective indicative of his nearly three decades of service in the hip-hop industry. Instead of the purely gotham beats of Wu-Tang albums past, Raekwon spits over compositions peppered with soul samples and phasers that add to The Wild’s modernity.
In a recent article in Vibe, Raekwon discusses his original sources of inspiration, noting the “old heads – Nation of Islam members, 5 Percenters, and just old school cats.” Those motivations and influences are quite apparent throughout The Wilds 43 minute runtime particularly on cuts like “Crown of Thorns,” which features a magnanimous vocal sample that breaks into a bellowing chorus and vivacious drums as The Chef pens an couple of verses recognizing his road to financial growth amidst images of “gray-haired gangsters,” and as “money spills, heads tumble, thugs rumble, [and] drugs crumble.” Or on “Purple Brick Road (feat. G-Eazy) which is something of a memorial to the game despite his imperfections.
Regarding features, CeeLo’s expressive contributions to “Marvin” contrast well with Raekwon’s husky vocals and the track’s wispy constructions, while Rae and P.U.R.E. trade equally alliterative bars on “M&N” which stands among some of the more technical moments on the project. Lil Wayne’s verse on “My Corner” should be encouraging for fans awaiting Tha Carter V, as it stands as one of Wayne’s more coherent verses of late.
Standout tracks: “Marvin,” “Crown of Thorns,” “Purple Brick Road,” & “Visiting Hour.”
GoldLink – At What Cost
Following a bout of accusations from Smino over snatching lyrics for his studio debut, GoldLink presents At What Cost with the steady reliance on danceable beats and peppy vocals heard on his previous tape, And After That, We Didn’t Talk. The natural bounce to GoldLink’s vocals cooperates with the catchy and upbeat production from electronic and chillwave maestro Kaytranada as well as The Internet’s Steve Lacy (and others) that glides along the soundscape with lubricated ease. In terms of assistance, At What Cost is very feature-friendly with 11 of the albums 14 tracks enlisting assistance, though each guest plays to GoldLink’s strengths, not vice-versa.
Standout tracks: “Herside Story,” “Meditation,” “Kokamoe Freestyle” & “Crew.”
Kendrick Lamar – “The Heart Part 4”
A downtempo instrumental plastered with funky vocals undergoes a couple of beat switches as Kendrick teases the lyricism to come for his fourth studio project set to release on April 7th.
Desiigner – “Holy Ghost”
The prince of adlibs returns with another bass pushing track in what might be the most audible he’s ever been. Somehow, even with the added clarity the NY native maintains vocal similarities to Future, though, if he plans to persevere with this newfound oral lucidity, Desiigner’s sophomore effort might offer greater replayability than 2016’s New English.