Raekwon For President?

With Method Man and Masta Killa.

Before the Wu-Tang Clan emerged in 1993, rap music was kind of dull. When the Wu

showed up with their debut album (Enter The Wu-Tang) they brought with them a whole new wordspeak, mentality, and a strategy for succeeding in life and in the music biz. The album also introduced us to Wu member Shallah Raekwon. Raekwon's

debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (upon which Ghostface Killah also appeared),

is a hip-hop masterpiece — the music is monstrously large, and Rae and

Ghost's vivid details of life on the street are heartfelt.

On his second CD, Immobilarity, Raekwon (alias Lex Diamonds) goes solo and

allows up-and-comers to take over production duties while his endemic Wu-slanguage

remains intact and as blistering as ever. But there are substantial differences

here to indicate that we're hearing a different Raekwon — this time he's Lex

Diamonds, the flesh-and-bone street gangsta turned politician on a moral mission.

Immobilarity is full of tension-filled gangsta rap stories.

Produced by newcomers Infinite Arkatechz, Triflyn, and Vo and Pop, simple hip-hop

beats are slapped out with sharp precision and threaded through orchestral

patterns. Songs such as "Live From NY" (RealAudio excerpt), "My Favorite Dred," "Casablanca" (RealAudio excerpt), "Yae-Yo"

and the freestyling "Pop Sh*t" demonstrate Rae's brutal lyrical acuity, while "The

Table" (featuring Masta Killa) and "All I Got is You" call for members of black

communities to support each other.

Raekwon inserts a little levity into the disc's tense atmosphere with the footwear

fantasy "Sneakers" (produced by Pete Rock), the bouncy dance floor track "Raw,"

and "Forecast" (RealAudio excerpt), his geographical shout-out to fans. Finally, the opening track

"Intro," with its speech about "Mr. Raekwon and his associates preparing to

deposit $500 million in the rap Vatican bank," will probably leave hip-hop heads

wondering if Raekwon is bluffing or if he really is funding his own high-powered

conglomerate. Either way, blood and a strong belief system propel

Immobilarity. Raekwon's gangsta tales may be off the meter, but his

unbridled passion to represent the Wu and the streets is undeniable.