Raekwon Immobilarity

Regarded as a bona fide hip-hop classic, Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx captures the perfection of RZA’s dissonant sound science with Raekwon and henchman Ghostface Killah’s witty unpredictable diction that ushered new words into the rhyme lexicon. But it’s been four years since that highly influential record and that fact is all over Immobilarity. Neither RZA or erstwhile foil Ghostface appears, and instead of the underworld, Raekwon’s focus seems to be trained on loyalty and family. In tune with this approach he gives opportunities to a cast of relative unknowns. A host of new producers from the extended Wu family provide a variety of middling beats for Raekwon’s flow. While Rae proceeds gamely, his accompanying bland soundscapes can lead to tuning out of his lyrics. One producer on the album doesn’t exactly dig in the crates, lifting three samples from new age artist Chris Spheeris. So when Pete Rock arrives to lay down one of his patented funk slabs for “Sneakers,” Raekwon’s clever dedication to hip-hop’s perennial fashion accessory, it’s a welcome yet brief respite. Things aren’t made any better with redundant allusions to previous Wu-Tang material. “Raw” lazily rehashes Rae’s own hook from Wu-banger “Winter Warz” and a skit discussing shoes pales in comparison to Ghostface’s memorable dissertation on wallabies from Cuban Linx. However, Immobilarity takes pains not to have anything in common with its predecessor and while this new direction is a commendable and necessary move, on its own merit, Immobilarity can’t aspire to anything other than ordinary. (Loud)