Raekwon Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang

RaekwonShaolin vs. Wu-Tang
With OBCL2 off his back, and more relevant than he's been in years, Raekwon sounds reinvigorated on Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang. Despite guest spots from Wu comrades and unexpected turns from Rick Ross, Estelle and Black Thought, solo album number five is Raekwon's show. Weaving dense webs of free-associative slang and vivid crime tales, Rae brings each guest back to Staten Island, '93. The beats are crackling, basement dirty, laden with kung-fu sound bites, knocking drums and bent soul samples. Rae and Nas trade lines over driving violins on "Rich and Black," while "Butter Knives" rewrites criminology rap in less than three minutes. Raekwon spins a revenge yarn on "Snake Pond" and tries out new rhyme styles on the hectic title track. Outside of the ill-advised "Rock N Roll," Shaolin is the sound of a master craftsman doing what he does best. Rappers considering an AARP membership take note: this is how you age gracefully. (EMI)