Saturday, 1 March 2003

Album Review: The Ying And The Yang

For years Cappadonna has seemed content to ride the coattails of his more established and more talented clansmen, while chipping in with uninspired verses on Wu Tang Clan tracks. His debut, The Pillage was a poor first time effort which leaves Cappadonna some convincing to do with his sophomore release.

It doesn't immediately sound like a Wu Tang album. Just like his fellow clansman Raekwon, Cappadonna has seemingly taken a step away from Rza’s production. This is a brave move, and at times it works well. The Grits produced by 8-off is a traditional slice of bragging rhetoric coupled with ringing horns. It’s one of the more typical Wu tracks on the album, and a decent way to kick off the album. Elsewhere, Shake Dat is Neonek’s attempt at a Timbaland style production. Many Wu fans will be concerned to hear their favourite group experimenting with different production styles, but I'm all in favour of a little variety.

Other highlights include Super Model, the first single to be lifted from the LP. It’s an unsurprisingly graphic account of what Cappadonna and Ghostface Killah like to get up to with super models. Predictably, Cappadonna is pretty far removed from modesty, “It’s a regular females be under my arm / ever since I got paid to start dropping the bombs / I can take two women, my nickname is long.” Meanwhile, there is Love Is The Message. It's caused some consternation amongst hardcore Wu fans; many people have dismissed it as a lightweight club track. Personally, I think it’s one of the best tracks the Wu have released in ages. There’s only so many bland piano and string arrangements that this fan can tolerate, and it’s good to hear the Wu make a decent stab at disco.

Unfortunately there isn’t much else to be positive about. Big Business is Cappadonna’s tribute to the Shaolin. It features a truly awful guitar melody as its backing track, which leaves it sounding like a Ricky Martin b-side. We Know with Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat is as bad as it sounds like it might be. The track is enveloped in cliché from start to finish, featuring a chorus, “We know young like we know old / we know platinum like we know gold / and how to get the fat dough.” But it is Dupri who drags the track even further towards mediocrity. He has to be one of the most uninspired rappers working in the world today and he takes what would be a below average track and makes it a really bad one.

Cappadonna can be pleased that he is making progress for this is a better LP than his debut. Weighing in with just 11 tracks (10 on the sleeve and 1 bonus) it doesn’t drag like many of today’s lengthier hip hop albums. Overall, it’s an alright LP, and it seems these days that’s the best you can hope for with the Wu.

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