It’s common critical drag nowadays that post-Forever Wu Tang Clan and their affiliates have come across some less than luminous times. Outside of Ghost’s discography, and Rae’s OB4CL II, most of their material has been less than memorable. The symbol lost its mystique, the sound became pendantic and repetitive, and the groups splintering and in-fighting left fans searching for other next shit. One could even say that it’s unfair to judge or look at much of the recent music as part of that Wu Tang umbrella. Most of the artist don’t rock over Rza production, or have formed their own crews and identities. Over the past decade, after the unraveling of Sunz of Man, Hell Razah has soldiered on. Razah has released a steady stream of solo and collaborative work to positive acclaim and a small, yet healthy fan base. Staying rooted in the self-righteous, Zulu inspired, biblical-ghetto parable narratives with his pen, and the murky, yet blues-infused soul-chops that won many of us over back in 93, Heaven Razah is definitely shimmering leaf on the expansive family tree.
Heaven Razah firmly sounds like an album set to speak “truth” to a wayward, “devil”-serving culture, lost in materialism. The album also examines the role of the hesitant thug immersed in gun play, robberies, and the drug game while trying to find their angel spirit and repent for their sins. One of the strongest efforts is the Bronze Nazareth produced “Book of Heaven Razah”. Hell Razah compresses and shares many theological and cosmological ideas over an elegant string chop acting as a medium for hovering guitars and a rumbling bass line. Simply put, old Wu heads will smile. 4th Disciple’s “Cinematic” hits systems in the same vein: a nostalgic sound full of dramatic violins, strident piano loops, and a scattered narrative that alludes to, or uses many titles of classic Blaxploitation films, for details. The song is a cerebral and soul controller. Yet, the winner has to be Dev 1’s “Return of The Renaissance” featuring underground favorite R.A. The Rugged Man. A funky Hammond and horn loop over and over as the two emcees flex superior mic skill breaking down the very panorama of today’s rap landscape. Without question Rugged Man spits one of the year’s most memorable verses. If I could, I’d post the whole damn verse, but let’s move on. Other jewels are “Kids In The Street”, “Selah”, “My Testimony” (sans the over-the-top hook) and “Armageddon”.
Yet, Heaven Razah does drag due to a few audible qualities. While Hell Razah is blessed with a strong voice, quality content, and verbal dexterity, his flow becomes monotonous over the less compelling production. Also hooks rarely breathe outside of the lyrics, and the self-anointed proselytizing becomes tedious. Coincidentally, Razah’s unflinching prose is what is commendable. He is sure about his ideas and feels they are valuable and important in comparison to the noise flooding his hood. Alongside production that stays rooted in a familiar motif, but has a more polished and vibrant aesthetic, Heaven Razah is a quality rap album about spiritual rejuvenation and redemption. I’ll end with hoping Razah and his family a healthy recovery and hopes hesitant rap fans give the album spins through the winter.