Ugodz-Illa Ugodz-Illa Presents: The Hillside Scramblers

[Lucky Hands/EMI; 2004]

Rating: 2/5

Styles:  hip-hop
Others: Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, Killarmy, Black Knights

It was bound to happen to them at some point. Recently, The Wu-Tang Clan has become a topic of conversation amongst hip-hop fans as to whether the crew will ever release another album. Ostensibly, tension and disrespect has surfaced between two members of the elite clan: Rza and U-God. Rza, famous for being the clan's visionary samurai, has been accused of enslaving U-God (one of the clans' original members) by giving him inadequate exposure. In turn, U-God has declined to be involved with the clan in the future and has embarked on a mission to create his own group of unified hip-hop soldiers. The result is Ugodz-illa's debut album,  Ugodz-Illa Presents: The Hillside Scramblers.

Firstly, The Hillside Scramblers are definitely not the Wu-Tang Clan, but U-God claims that this project is not an attempt at resurrecting a crew like the Wu. Much like U-God's solo debut, Golden Arms Redemption, Ugodz-Illa is crisp and clear (with the help of producer DJ Homicide) and is filled with ample bass-thumping, futuristic organ drones, and straightforward drum programming. Never straying away from simplistic musical craftsmanship (which can be learned from many Wu producers like 4th Disciple and Mathematics), U-God and his crew conjured many repetitive elements that have been created by other Wu members or affiliates. There is nothing shockingly new on this album, yet that is exactly what each fan should conclude prior to purchasing this record. U-God's involvement with the Clan was seldom and unconvincing on many occasions.

Although some of his work did make an impression (like on "Black Shampoo" from Wu-Tang Forever), most of his work left fans wondering if his involvement was necessary at all. Ugodz-Illa clearly showcases where U-God reached his plateau (with the Wu) and does not leave the listener feeling completely satisfied with his stagnant and unimpressive musical direction. And although he is the only individual on this project worthy of praise and recognition, the complete package becomes another record filled with generic reproduction of work that has been done over and over in the past by other tribes like Killarmy, Black Knights, etc.

Consequently, Ugodz-Illa Presents: The Hillside Scramblers is for collectors only. If you have been a fan in the past of U-God's work, this album should satisfy your curiosity. But if you're indifferent to U-God's work, this album won't do anything but reaffirm your indifference. As for U-God's future, it's safe to say that his involvement with the Wu-Tang Clan may never occur again. But will anyone really notice?

1. Intro
2. Pain Inside
3. Lean Like Me
4. Destiny
5. Stick Up
6. Tell Me
7. Chippin & Chop It
8. Booty Drop
9. Spit Game
10. Ghetto Gutter
11. Drama
12. Take It To The Top
13. KJ Rhyme
14. Gang Of Gangstas
15. Put It On Me