Raekwon

The Vatican Mixtape, Vol. 1

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As is the case with many mixtapes, Raekwon's The Vatican Mixtape, Vol. 1 (not to be confused with the similarly titled release of October 2006) acts, among other things, as an announcement for the upcoming follow-up to 1995's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, as well as both a retrospective of the Chef's career and preview of what's to come. A combination of previously unreleased work, tracks from his collaborations with other artists ("The Heist," in nearly full form, with Ghostface Killah and Busta Rhymes from Busta's album Anarchy, "Bump Bump" from Prince Po's The Slickness), and DJ Riddler skits, as well as some of Raekwon's solo work (from the aforementioned album as well as from 1999's Immobilarity) and work with Wu-Tang (the great old-school track, and featuring ODB, "Shame on a Nigga" from the 1993 opus Enter the Wu-Tang), The Vatican Mixtape, Vol. 1 acts a decent, though not fantastic, overview of the MC's abilities. On some tracks, like "You Might Die" and "Yae-Yo," his rhymes are right-on, hard-hitting, and descriptive, but there are a few, like the worthless "Thousands to the M's," which has more shout-outs and random diatribe than anything of substance, that could have been easily left out. Still, the album is mixed well, flowing together while still retaining separate track identities, and the production, while not all RZA, is good and fits the MC's style. For a Raekwon fan who absolutely can't wait any longer for Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, this will prove satisfying enough.

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