Album of the Week: Raekwon "Fly International Luxurious Art"
Wed, 29 Apr 2015 10:59:17
The Chef returns with a classic as weighty as “Cuban Linx” and a whole lot of 21st century swag.
Raekwon’s Fly International Luxurious Art is our Album of the Week. The Chef’s sixth full-length, out now via IceH2O Records and Caroline Records, recalls the booming bravado and cinematic storytelling of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II with a flossy 21st century sheen that bridges the hood and the high rise like no other rapper can. The operative word in the title is Art. That’s what the Wu-Tang Clan’s most visual MC has always excelled at. You feel like you’re watching a painting or a movie unfold over the course of the 13 tracks.
Longtime brother-in-rhymes Ghostface Killah helps kick off the trip with soulful strut of "4 in the Morning," setting the stage amidst a horn swell, police sirens, and deliberately cold (and undeniably cool) hook. Ghostface also blesses "Revory (Wraith)" with more sizzling bars as Rick Ross turns up ready to spit and does so confidently and charismatically.
Fly International Luxurious Art unites two different eras often in the space of the same song. We get French Montana and Busta Rhymes sharing the spotlight on the impenetrable “Wall to Wall,” and 2 Chainz brings that modern Atlanta trap boom to “F.I.L.A. World,” while east meets west on the Snoop Dogg-assisted “1,2 1,2.” Estelle’s undeniable pipes punctuate “All About You.” The stand out moment occurs on “I Got Money” where Raekwon and A$AP Rocky go head-to-head. Rocky and A$AP Mob definitely nod to Wu-Tang Clan, so it’s like a metaphorical torch passing. There couldn’t be a bigger or more special moment for hip-hop heads this year either.
It’s “Nautilus” where we really get to hear Raekwon rip it up for just over two minutes, illuminating that there’s still nobody who can cook up bars like The Chef. There never will be either. Today, there’s more hip-hop than ever. There are more sub-genres too from trap to alternative to you-name-it. However, all of those cats owe some debt to Staten Island’s finest. Fly International Luxurious Art assets his place amongst rap’s most influential vanguard yet again, and it also shows that he’s more relevant and versatile than ever.
This is The Chef’s most fulfilling musical meal this century and the beginning of the next era.
See our review of “Wall to Wall.”
Raekwon's 'Fly International Luxurious Art' is out now via IceH2O Records.