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RZA – The RZA Hits

Sony Music Distribution, 1999

Being a middle class suburban book-readin’ gangster, I have heard of RZA.  I know he was one of the more influential hip hop figures in the nineties and he was a member of that Wu-Tang Clan.  See?  I’m protecting my cred neck here.   However, if it can’t already be discerned I am not fluent in what you would say hip hop anthems (not counting “Hip Hop Hooray”).  Therefore, this compilation of Wu-Tang tunes was a must grab to improve my collection’s standing.  Once I finish reviewing this disc, I’m going to slot it next to my other hip hop discs like the Black Eyed Peas and Lauryn Hill.  Yeeeauuuhh.

This compilation of popular hip hop hits contains many familiar tunes by the Wu-Tang as well as the likes of Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.  After three or four songs, the RZA inserts himself and explains what some of the songs were as if he were a disc jockey.  Not an entirely unwelcome interruption, as the RZA does provide some details as to where the song comes from and sometimes speaks casually about how the group put certain songs together.

Wu-Tang classics like “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit” and “Protect Ya Neck” are here, as well as the excellent, piano-hooked “C.R.E.A.M.”  I love the raspy delivery of Method Man on his eponymous song, especially the part where he simply spells his own name.  I know, simple, but it’s just catchy enough.  Of all the rappers here, Ghostface Killah definitely comes off as the one with the most force behind his words, as his cameo on Raekwon’s “Ice Cream” is quite impressive.  Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s staggered delivery of “Brooklyn Zoo” illustrates how tantalizing he was when he delivered his lyrics, even if they weren’t always perceptible.  Since there is practically zero filler here given the Wu-Tang Clan’s influence more than a decade ago, this album is chock full of tunes that hip hop fans should just have on hand.

After the main part of the disc concludes with the RZA talking about Wu Wear, surprise, there’s a bonus track about wearing Wu Wear with Method Man and Cappadonna.  I suppose its inclusion makes a lot of sense given that these guys might as well market their own stuff while they have our attention, and I admit, I considered a Wu Tang sweater that resembled a Boston Bruins jersey design.  However, the song itself is not likely going to make a long-term impression for the listener.

RZA even has a MySpace page, but perhaps you’d like to just go directly to Wu Tang’s website for some serious tunes.

This disc, by default, is an automatic keeper given its excellent historic account of some of the greatest hip hop tracks from the nineties.  Obviously, it deserves the Golden Dollar.  As most hip hop fans know, the RZA and the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan are still busily putting out records here and there.  The remaining members have already planned a reunion tour in England with Cappadonna and Streetlife, so if you’re over there sipping tea within the next few days, go check ’em out.  It might cost you a coupla dollar dollar bills, thoooough.

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