Polluted Water may be Icewater's debut, but the Staten Island group is definitely not a bunch of neophytes. Founder Polite is a long-time friend of the Wu-Tang's Raekwon and was a part of the Theodore Unit, while the group itself showed up on the Chef's 2003 record The Lex Diamond Story. This longevity certainly helps explain why such an impressive selection of guests -- which include, besides Rae, who appears seven times, Method Man, Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes, Three 6 Mafia, Remy Ma, Pimp C, and even Jagged Edge, the latter on the out-of-place slow jam "All Night" -- shows up on the album. And while Icewater isn't outshined by the visiting MCs (besides Polite, P.C. also delivers the most impressive and alluring rhymes), they never do much lyrically to really convince anyone that they're deserving of such high-profile stars. They don't stray much from the typical hard underground themes -- self-aggrandizement, women, guns, and weed, with the occasional reflective bit thrown in -- and they don't often approach these themes from alternate angles. The group, like most hip-hop out of Staten Island, may have Wu ties, but they aren't Wu-inspired, using few of the intricate storytelling techniques the Clan often employs. They come closest on "Click Click," about a murder, and featuring the rappers reciting some of their lines in a whisper, but there's not the same level of intrigue and wit that makes the Wu's tales so enjoyable. The biggest problem with Polluted Water, however, is how uneven it is. Tracks like "Click Click" and the excellent "Icewater (We Still Runnin')" are offset by the unfortunate "I'm a Boss," "All Night," and "Let's Get It Right," (none of which are helped by so-so beats) or the adequate but forgettable "Do It Big," "Knuckle Up" (which does feature a pretty decent verse from the late UGK rapper Pimp C), and "Hip-Hop Tribute," yet another reflection on the history and contemporary state of the genre that says absolutely nothing new except yes, everyone agrees that Big Daddy Kane and Rakim were great. The four MCs in Icewater are able enough, with strong, aggressive flows and rhymes that certainly result from years of practice, but they're also unconvincing in their attempts to prove that they're anything more than average.
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AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown
feat: Method Man
feat: Jagged Edge