Various Artists

Pollen: The Swarm, Pt. 3

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Since the first installment in 1998, the Swarm compilation series has been synonymous with the Wu B-teamers, phoned-in contributions from core members, and few and far between hidden gems (think Ruthless Bastards and Ghost's "Cobra Clutch" off of Vol. 1). Pollen: The Swarm, Pt. Three follows this formula to a T. Throughout the 15-deep track list, we get ample offerings from refugees from second-tier Wu-Tang outfits like Killarmy and Sunz of Man as well as a new set of Shaolin upstarts, while Method Man, the RZA, and the GZA are present on a handful of disappointing cuts. The one aptly titled track credited to the Wu-Tang Clan, "Tang Clan-Assed Out," feels haphazardly thrown together, with Meth providing perhaps the most cringe-worthy verse of his career before the GZA brings in a promising racial-profiling narrative that fades out almost as soon as it starts. Elsehwere, the RZA's vocals on the one Bobby Digital cut, "You Must Be Dreaming," were surely recorded while he was suffering from the flu. Undoubtedly, there's plenty to dislike about this compilation and, among all the flotsam and jetsam, the Killah Priest/Remedy collaboration joint, "The Testimony," succeeds in standing out as especially bad. Still, Pollen does hold at least two gems. The Wu's most reliable founding member manages to come through; Ghostface alongside his Theodore Unit brethren Trife, and Solomon Childs delivers a short but sweet street-banger with "Smooth Sailing." While the undeniably ill rapport between Remedy and Jo Jo Pelligrino on "Transportin'" recalls Ghost and Rae's best circa 1995 drug trafficking vignettes.

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