Friday, 21 February 2003

Album Review: Beneath The Surface

With the Wu-circa 1999 treading water, it was hoped that the Gza would be the spark to inspire the entire crew to get back to their best. Unfortunately, anyone pinning their hopes on the Gza was wildly disappointed. It only takes a cursory glance at the track list to set off alarm bells - an Intro, an Outro and 4 skits find their way amongst the eighteen tracks.

The opening track on the LP Amplified Sample is one the better tracks, that however, is more a mark of the overall quality of the LP than the track. The production by Mathematics is purely Rza-by-numbers, but worse is that Gza chooses to use the same verse twice. One would like to think that this was done intentionally for some obtuse artistic reason. However, I can only think that it was performed out of laziness. Worse still, on the track Feel Like An Enemy, Gza doesn't appear at all, instead leaving to the Sunz Of Man. It's this kind of cheap filler material that is selling the Wu fans down the river.

Of the positives, the title track is a nod to the master storyteller that Gza used to be, "On a man made lake there's a layer of thin ice / where unskilled skaters cut figure eights twice." Elsewhere Hip Hop Fury is an enchanting mixture of xylophone and bass, which houses some of the best lines on the entire record. Unfortunately there isn't much else worthy of anyone's eardrum.

Overall the problem with this LP is that Gza simply isn't on it enough. On some tracks he actually does nothing, on others he gives his audience one verse and on one he repeats the same verse twice. All in all this is a blueprint for how to go from amazing to amazingly bad.

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