By Kathy Iandoli
On Tuesday (March 8th), Wu-Tang frontrunner Raekwon released his fifth solo album, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang.
The album follows Rae’s sequel to the classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, 2009’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II, which debuted at Number 4 on the Billboard 200 charts and Number 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. While OB4CL2 did exceptionally well competing with Jay-Z’s Blueprint III at the time, the collaborative Wu-Massacre (2010) with Method Man and Ghostface met mixed reviews. Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang could go either way, but from fans’ tweets, the reviews weigh in the Chef’s favor.
“Dear @Raekwon, You DID THAT with Shaolin vs Wu-Tang!” one fan @joebiam tweeted. “This is a good start for Hip-Hop in 2011...” “This new Raekwon is fire!” @1mikesteele continued.
Raekwon is an active member of Twitter – using his name @Raekwon as his handle – and fans seem to be aware of his tweeting activity, addressing him directly in their tweets.
“@Raekwon I'm at work killing the new album God...#shaolinvswu-tang,” @desmega tells Raekwon. “@Raekwon I love the album Rae,” @IAM254 says.
Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang has a whole roster of legends on tracks like “Rich & Black” with Nas, “Masters Of Our Fate” with Black Thought, and “Crane Style” with Busta Rhymes. The work also features Wu veterans Ghostface (“Silver Rings”, “Rock N Roll”, “Molasses”), along with Method Man on “Every Soldier In the Hood” and “From the Hills” and Inspectah Deck on “Chop Chop Ninja”. While RZA isn’t present, other Wu producers like Bronze Nazareth and Allah Mathematics make sonic appearances on “Butter Knives” and “Dart School” respectively.
Fans are impressed by Raekwon’s balance of the legendary component mixed with newer school artists. While far from “new”, rappers like Jim Jones, Rick Ross, and Lloyd Banks check in on tracks, unlikely fits for the Chef but the songs work. Raekwon even enlisted R&B artists Estelle and Raheem DeVaughn on his hooks. Fans took notice, as @Mogul_Bless tweets “Shout out to @raekwon. Even though he's a legend in the game he still embraces the new school #Respect.”
Of course, not everyone will be a fan, as @themooks prefers OB4CL2: “New Raekwon album was disappointing after the last one.” Still, even celebs are praising Raekwon over Twitter.
“Yo yall! Cop that shaolin vs. Wutang joint from RAEKWON!! It’s very ill!!” A Tribe Called Quest legend Q-Tip (@QTipTheAbstract) tweets.
Even @Questlove was on board: “@raekwon man i can't stop listening to ‘Butter Knives’ cop that new Shaolin Vs Wu Tang by Rae!”
While it seems as though Raekwon has a surefire hit on his hands, the real results come in next week when Soundscan will reveal the Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang album sales.
Did you listen to Raekwon's new album? Tell us your thoughts on the interview? Tweet to us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below?