9th Prince

Revenge of the 9th Prince

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For RZA, the Wu-Tang enterprise has always been a family affair, from including his cousins GZA and Ol' Dirty as core clan members to brother Divine heading the Wu management team. Another of RZA's brothers, 9th Prince has been running with the Killarmy crew since the mid-'90s and dropping solo albums of his own since 2004. On his third full-length solo effort, Prince calls on the production talents of BP (known mostly for his work with Black Market Militia) to set a murky neo-Wu mood through chilling piano loops and haunting soul vocal samples. Like a lot of lower-level Wu-Tang affiliates, 9th Prince's flow relies on clumsy brute force and a generic stylistic similarity to the Clan's best artists. As such, Revenge of the 9th Prince makes for a mostly forgettable listening experience. Consider the off-kilter verbal jabs on "I Will Rise": "Killa arm for life even after death/Peppermint breath/While I'm shakin' your right hand/I shoot you with my left/The ninth prism/Yeah I shine like a ray of light, through the iron mic/Look up in the sky it's a bird, it's a plane/No, it's me high as a f*cking kite." 9th Prince's rhymes do occasionally get a little more conceptually cohesive, like when he runs through a list of sexual fantasies that recalls Biggie's "Dreams" on "Dear R&B," while verse one of "Cyanide Poetry" sees a starstruck Prince attending an industry party with his big brother: "Up in Q-Tip's party from A Tribe Called Quest/RZA introduced me as his guest/I met Nia Long, kissed upon her hand then chilled/Fell back in my b-boy stance." And as much as Wu devotees may crave any surviving remnants of Ol' Dirty Bastard's musical legacy, they would find themselves hard-pressed to find anything worthwhile in the grating flows of his son Boy Jones on "Double 09." Sadly, the best moments on this album come when Prince passes the mic to more capable guest lyricists like Planet Asia, Shyheim, and William Cooper. At least this much can be said for him: 9th Prince is an artist who doesn't mind being outshined.

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