Raekwon The Lex Diamond Story

It’s an unenviable time for Raekwon to be putting out his third solo record. The main interest in the Wu these days seems to be limited to Ghostface’s upcoming solo or what ODB’s been doing since he got out of jail. To his credit, Raekwon has ploughed on with his trademark storytelling style and this record is better than his sophomore effort Immobilarity, but that isn’t really saying much since that was arguably one of the worst entries in the Wu catalogue. Raekwon is at his best when outlining his gritty street vignettes, as on "Missing Watch,” where teamed with Ghostface the scenario reaches ridiculous heights. But the best of this material opens the album, and while yet another tedious Mafioso storyline unfolds and posse cuts featuring Raekwon’s unimpressive Ice Water crew appear, he’s soon knee-deep in mediocrity. A thoroughly underwhelming remake of his own "Ice Cream” classic doesn’t help either. It’s a shame because album closer "Once Upon A Time” indicates what may have been if he had actually focused on his strengths instead of nepotism and his past reputation. (Motown)