Masta Killa

    Made in Brooklyn


    Masta Killa has faith in Wu Tang. His 2004 debut, No Said Date, stuck to the Wu script to great effect, and the underrated emcee has followed that triumph up with another pure offering. Though RZA‘s presence is hardly felt on Made in Brooklyn (the beats are from various producers, including Pete Rock and MF Doom), the Wu sound is still the backbone of the record, and all of the surviving core members make an appearance. Unfortunately, Made in Brooklyn doesn’t have the same urgency as its predecessor and will likely fall into the middle of the solo-record pack.


    The best songs here are those involving the least amount of thought. Wu beats. Wu rhymes. A decent chorus. End of song. One song is called “Brooklyn King,” a title that bodes well, and the track satisfies with a minimal beat and a great flow. When Masta Killa tries to make his songs about something, they end up sounding generic, or worse, like the awful reggae closer “Lovely Lady.” He’s never been much of a statement emcee, but his wordplay is great, and his voice is a powerful instrument that never seems lacking, even when matched up with higher-profile, more technically accomplished Wu members such as Raekwon and Ghost on the instant classic “It’s What It Is.”


    Still, Masta Killa may be one of hip-hop’s most humble emcees. He allows many of his guests to jump on the track first, he rarely uses battle rhymes, and he seems to be the only Wu member doggedly confident in the classic sound, not because he is uncreative, but because he knows his strengths and plays to them. His flows can be interesting and his lyrics are often engaging, but no one would mistake him for a great emcee, and he would probably be the first to admit it. But great albums are often made by good emcees, and even if Masta Killa is batting .500 in that regard, the worst you can say about Made in Brooklyn is that it’s uneven. But with a few strong solo tracks and some great group tracks, the prospect of a full Wu Tang record is still very exciting.



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