Thursday, 27 February 2003

Album Review: Immobilarity

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is a landmark hip hop LP, and many Wu Tang fans consider it to be the finest Wu Tang solo album. For this reason, Raekwon's second solo LP was greatly anticipated. Sadly, yet again, true fans should be greatly disappointed by what is offered on Immobilarity.

Unlike the previous ten trillion Wu Tang albums, it doesn't begin with a film sample. Raekwon instead chooses to read a few lines, ironically, from Godfather III (perhaps Paramount wouldn't give sample clearance). I say ironic, because like Godfather III, Immobilarity also fails to climb the dizzy heights of its illustrious predecessor.

In a move probably to make himself a more visible entity in his own right as opposed to merely being a member of The Wu Tang Clan, he has distanced himself from many of his fellow clansmen. Perhaps Raekwon deserves credit for refusing the help of the Wu's resident producer the Rza and by not teaming with Ghostface Killah on a single track, it's a brave but ultimately foolhardy move. Raekwon is a most talented MC, but sadly his voice is not the most charismatic and this can leave his work sounding a little bland. Worse, is that he has replaced potential guest spots from the likes of Ghostface Killah and Nas with the untalented American Cream Team.

However, the main problem with Immobilarity is not the MCing but the production. Admittedly, around 1999, the Rza was not the innovative producer he once was, but he has been replaced here by a bunch of untalented, no-name producers. Triflyn is the worst offender. His track Friday is utterly appalling, Power sounds exactly the same, 100 Rounds is a blatant but poor attempt at recreating the eerie string effects that made Cuban Linx so exciting to listen to, the Keith Sweat sampling Forecast is the worst of the lot; it's just so weak. Only the Method Man featuring Fuck Them is a passable piece of work. In a genre packed with unimpressive producers, Triflyn might be the worst I have ever heard.

It's genuinely hard to find anything positive to say about the production. Only the Pete Rock produced Sneakers protrudes beyond mediocre. The song has Raekwon name checking all his favourite trainers from the past, "Prince black Jordans, K-Swiss gear, remember Lottos / stash mad bottles in the fence oooh Diadora", he reminisces during the first verse. For me, it's head and shoulders above any other track on the album.

It's the beats that detract from the album. One might feel a little sorry for Raekwon, because he is as lyrically dextrous as ever. Unfortunately he has been badly let down by his chosen producers. But it's hard to be sympathetic for long, when one is reminded that he picked these producers and chose to release an album so unbelievably below par.

If Only Built 4 Cuban Linx was the Chef cooking up a succulent filet mignon, then Immobilarity is, at best, a greasy doner kebab.

No comments: