Sunz of Man The Old Testament

If rap were a religion — and to some it is — The Old Testament would be four (sometimes five) MCs hurling lyrical lightning bolts from up high. If you missed their 1998 debut, Sunz of Man are one of god knows how many (at least 22) splinter groups owing their existence to the Wu-Tang Clan. Drafting their choicest cuts and lesser-known mix-tape jewels, Killah Priest, the 60 Second Assassin, Prodigal Sunn, Hell Razah and Shabbazz the Disciple spend entire tracks trading verses in everything from Genesis (of the group) to the Book of Revelations. One moment someone mimics the RZA’s scientific, slurred rhymes; the next it’s Raekwon or ODB being aped in what could pass for a religion-obsessed Gravediggaz album, especially with the wilting melodies of "Soliders of Darkness.” While lacking in originality, this effort finds success by including "Intellectuals,” which is instantly classic in the way Wu-Tang’s "Triumph” was, but obviously less so. Meanwhile, eerie RZA-influenced kung-fu western/horror flick production dominates "In the Beginning.” All at once, it sounds distant — hollow and tinny — while lunging around drunk in the dark. All at once, that sounds refreshing. (Searchlight)