Any fan of hip-hop will immediately recognize Raekwon, one of the members of the esteemed Wu-Tang Clan. Just because the group isn't quite as active as they used to be doesn't mean its members aren't still working hard. Raekwon goes old-school on new album The Wild, bringing in a lot of modern touches to pair with the more vintage vibes.
The Wild has a distinctly nineties style going on within it, but at the same time it offers up a lot of modern soundings to bring the sound to a more present-day sound. 'This Is What It Comes Too' opens the record with a very threatening vibe, Raekwon rapping about himself and his own power in the genre, roaring at and ripping apart all of his opponents. The synth string sound sounds urgent above the classic beat, carrying the song with a sort of progressive vibe. The same old-school vibe continues on 'Nothing' with a more moodier flow to it and a purposeful message to it. The hook comes off as a bit awkward due to the reliance of the vocal sample to complete it, leaving it sounding kind of empty.
There are other moments that help define the old-meets-new vibe further in on the album. Several guests are brought in to provide their own unique touch on the album, like CeeLo Green on 'Marvin,' Green actually sounding pretty dark and soulful in the context of the moody instrumental. It's interesting to hear him in this fashion given his latest outputs. The dark and threatening 'You Hear Me' at the end of the record has a largely more modern sound to it, the guitar synth and deep piano really carrying the track akin to something like Future (except a whole lot better). The grand synths of 'M&N' featuring P.U.R.E. with its evil progression really adds a different level of depth to the record.
Alongside the great moments are some pretty bad ones, still. A pet peeve of mine are skits on hip-hop records, and their uselessness still persists on this record. There are five of them on this record, and they all sound pretty much useless (barring the intro, which actually isn't bad). Other times, it almost feels like the album ran out of ideas. 'The Reign' feels completely lost and grasps on to different words as if to try and find any meaning in them that could be there. Sadly, it just ends up being a track that brings a lot of the album down.
Raekwon's old-school vibe in The Wild really sounds fresh in the context of today's hip-hop scene. We don't often see such driven tracks anymore. This album isn't perfect but it certainly stands its place as one of the stronger hip-hop records this year, bringing the old and pairing it with the new to delivery unforgettable mission statements.
Favorite Tracks: You Hear Me, This Is What It Comes To
Least Favorite Tracks: Skits, The Reign
Rating: 74 / 100
Buy or listen to The Wild here: