What exactly is Wu-Massacre, and how did this long-delayed, long-awaited collab finally come to be? From the quick opening pair of bangers “Criminology 2.5” and “Mef Vs. Chef 2,” everything points to a sequel, most obviously to Raekwon’s 2009 heavy hitter Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II. Everything about the album is brief: verses, songs, the whole deal — in fact, the tidy little joint runs only 30 minutes, including skits. Despite the year-plus run-up to this album, with release date cancellations littering the path, the end product is a study in concision. You almost get the feeling that the Wu’s leading three killa bees had trouble scrambling enough songs together to make this happen at all, let alone finding enough time in the studio.
The result is an album that feels more like a compilation than a true collaboration. The beats lean heavily on the classic Wu soul sample template to great success, but the rapping can sound phoned-in, and the guests get nearly as much mic time as the stars. When Meth says, “Rap ain’t done shit for me lately/ It’s ass backwards, this game tryna play me/ I bet this never happens to Jay-Z,” it’s easy to believe him: the dissatisfaction is as in-your-face as the boom-bap.
Fortunately, even if this album wound up being a toss-off, it’s still a lot fresher than loose leftover salads like Ghostface’s More Fish a few years back. Although it’s hard not to expect more from the principal players, we do get some top-form performances: the two openers, the squeaky-voiced “Our Dreams” and “Dangerous,” are serious contenders for best in show; “Pimpin’ Chipp” is Ghost in classic storytelling mode; and “Youngstown Heist” sees the whole crew joining in the narration.
It’s disappointing that this much-anticipated release wound up as more of a stopgap than anything, but it’s a stopgap of the best possible kind. Wu-Massacre almost feels like a preview for itself, but really functions more as a reminder that these soldiers are still deep in the trenches, leaning on the time-tested skills and sounds that put them at the top of the 90s and spurred their revival in this past decade. It’s not going to change your life, but it might change your go-to playlist.