Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Raekwon ft. Inspectah Deck, GZA, Ghostface & Method Man – House of Flying Daggers

Soup’s up…


Matt Cibula: Like a weed test in High Times, seven to this joint / Like ballet dancers they’re thin but all on point / Five minutes of Dilla / Turn into green like chlorophylla / Vanilla Gorilla like Joel Przybilla / Style ain’t changed, by now I guess it never willa

Spencer Ackerman: I am writing this 6 minutes after the official release of Cuban Linx II, which I will actually purchase. If this track is representative, we can all take a well-deserved exhale. By all rights this record should be as disappointing a sequel as Frank Miller’s second Dark Knight book. Please, Chef: let every track be as powerful as this, with the nervous J-Dilla (RIP) beat and the nostalgic GZA chorus.

Martin Skidmore: This really does take me back to their early days, and makes me think that the new Raekwon album might be a worthy successor to the original Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. I totally love this – I realise having this as my favourite hip hop single of the year dates me, but I am old.

Pete Baran: Check with the excellent Kung Fu samples, the seemingly one note bassline and the respectful interplay between the three best living Wu Tang rappers. Feels like an offcut of Liquid Swords, which may be the point. As elegaic as the film it is named after, I am still not sure if a Wu Tang track should ever be quite this cosy and comforting.

Alex Ostroff: Dilla brews up a bubbling soup of synths, and the GZA storms out of the kitchen with a reheated chorus from Clan in da Front sounding just as hungry as Wu did in ’93. Inspectah Deck’s first course gives us “I pop off like a mobster boss / Angel hair with the lobster sauce,” which hasn’t left my tongue all week. Raekwon harvests fresh fruit from Africa and cooks up fluffy coke before Ghostface pummels our faces in with a baseball bat, sounding harder than he has in years. Dessert is provided by Meth, who threatens to flambe all of The Clan’s fans before dumping their ashes in ODB’s urn. And in the music video, a man EATS A CAT. The Chef certainly took his time preparing House of Flying Daggers, but finally served, it’s a varied, filling four course meal.

Rodney J. Greene: While the recycle of the “Clan in da Front” hook doesn’t lend much to this beyond a sense of continuity, it’s delivered in a much more directly confrontational way than in the original. This works with the reinvigorated Wus and the sturdy stomp of an ancient military beat to impart an unfakeable urgency. That rush dissapates somewhat as the track progresses from Inspectah Deck’s instantly memorable opening couplet to Method Man’s uninspired doggerel, but there isn’t enough time for the momentum to stall completely.

Michaelangelo Matos: Everyone except Ghost sounds like he’s trying to force what he did a lot more easily once upon a time, and the J Dilla beat flatly retreads prime Wu without the cackling menace or ear for chills.

Martin Kavka: I assume that I’m supposed to hail this posthumously released J Dilla production, but even when it’s punctuated by the “people” chant from The Four Tops’ version of “Eleanor Rigby,” the repeated two-note string motif makes me feel like I’m being buffeted around by the agitator in a clothes washer.

Alfred Soto: It says something about the comfortable awesomeness of this track that Inspectah Deck’s rhymes and timbre had me begging for more. Elsewhere, Ghostface motormouths through his bit, Method Man shows why he’s got the piff to puff, and the title hero entreats us to bury him in Africa while reminding us about diamonds in Syria. It sounds like 1997, but it’s not: not many of us in 1997 thought this crew could stay this consistent in 2009, especially after having heard their 1997 album.

Anthony Miccio: Whenever Wu vets pull off a track that successfully resembles their ’90s heyday, I remember just how much old school Wu-Tang there is, and that maybe I should fill in the gaps of my collection (I don’t think I ever replaced my cassette copy of Forever, for one) before celebrating a modest rekindling of the flame. Then again, this track feels anything but modest.

Alex Macpherson: The Eastern kung-fu signifiers are laid on as heavily and enthusiastically as one would expect, but what lends the martial moves of “House Of Flying Daggers” its genuinely mystic tinge is the way its protagonists seem to have supped from some elixir of youth. All involved sound fresher and hungrier than they have in a while, but nonetheless wise with it. Raekwon’s perfectly timed interruption of Inspectah Deck is indicative of a man who can’t wait to get out there and show the world how much he’s still capable of.

10 Responses to “Raekwon ft. Inspectah Deck, GZA, Ghostface & Method Man – House of Flying Daggers”

  1. Didn’t realize this was a Jay Dee beat. Who cares?

  2. Martin K cost this a much deserved place in our top ten, dammit!

  3. Didn’t realize this was a Jay Dee beat. Who cares?

    People who want to know who produced it, probably.

  4. My favorite Wu (and Raekwon) single of the year (not that I’ve made any attempt to keep up) is still “Heat Rocks,” but maybe just because I thought I was the only person on earth who still remembered Grandmaster Flash’s awesome but always ignored 1982 single “Flash To The Beat,” and now I know I’m not. This song here sounds…complex. And pretty good, of course, though I’ve mostly just thought of Wu Tang Clan for years as “the music I always heard blasting out of my teenage kid’s room” before he started liking songs by Cage The Elephant and Jason Aldean and Grand Funk. So I’m pretty oblivious when it comes to anything deeper than what’s on Greatest Hits, The RZA Hits, or the Ghost Dog soundtrack. I know that means I’m missing a lot, but I don’t mind. Anyway, if I’d been able to think of anything to say about it, I probably would’ve given this a 6 or 7. It’s fine, but can’t imagine I’d particularly care about hearing it again.

  5. I love the video to this!

  6. Anthony, the “Who cares?” was in regards to Kavka’s suggestion that people would be giving it high marks based on who did the beat, which assumes we are all big Dilla cultists, which I, for one, certainly am not.

  7. Chuck is right, “Heat Rocks” is brilliant! Why didn’t it make the album?

  8. Matt’s blurb gets a solid [8].

  9. rev otm, this sounds like all the beats on the album pretty much

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