Masta Killa

No Said Date

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The long-delayed first solo release from Wu-Tang Clan's Masta Killa (legendary for recording his contributions to "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" on Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) while in jail) features guest raps and beats by most of the Clan's main members. Unlike a lot of albums where the guy whose name is on the cover sounds like a guest on his own album (paging P. Diddy), this is strictly Masta Killa's party. His aggressive but nimble flow is all over each of these songs, with the guest raps by the rest of the crew -- including Raekwon, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Method Man, and Ghostface -- limited to a verse or even just a couple lines at a time. The settings, mostly by the usual Wu-Tang Clan production team of the RZA, True Master, and Mathematics, are mostly utilitarian, keeping the focus on the words, but a couple of inspired samples stand out, particularly the use of the creepy strings from OutKast's "Skrew It On the Bar-B," speeded up slightly to give them an otherworldly atmosphere, on the title track and the brilliant use of the instantly familiar bassline from Quincy Jones' "The Streetbeater" (the Sanford and Son theme) as the basis of "Old Man." In production and supposedly "almost finished" for literally years, No Said Date is worth the wait.

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