Lagging behind his Wu-Tang Clan counterparts in crafting his solo debut, Masta Killa steps forth with No Said Date eleven years after Enter the Wu-Tang made its strong and significant impact on hip-hop. The album that launched a thousand albums was the first in a dynasty, birthing other landmarks: at least three Raekwon records, recent singles from Ghostface’s fourth outing, a Fox network show for Method Man. The list goes on and on, not excluding masterworks from GZA and multiple personalities/film scores from Ol’ Dirty and the RZA. But Masta Killa waited patiently, perfecting his special shadow-boxing technique and Shao-Lin skill. And No Said Date is a successful pounce, delivering on promises to return to the aspects that made the Clan’s debut what it still is.
The record opens with wise words about the “poison clan techniques” and insight from a Shao-Lin master into the Clan’s taking “new names to keep their identities secret.” On the title track, Masta Killa delivers venom over RZA’s menacing melody and snippets of kung-fu soundtracks. He remains true to his Wu witticisms, referencing questions from passers-by about his forthcoming record and maintaining that it’s worth it to take his time, in No Said Date‘s apparent and immediate authenticity.
Some of the original feel of the Wu-Tang tends to get lost in the crew’s multitude of solo outings, but Masta Killa defies this trend and adheres strictly to what was laid down in 1993. Although he was in the Big House at the time and didn’t have much to say on the crew’s first appearance, his spots on the subsequent releases along the way proved that he was capable of this record. On the sixth track, a skit called “For the Children,” he steps aside and allows some youngins practice their flows. This minute-and-a-half interlude of budding Wu-Toddler Clan is a nice break before the chaos ensues alongside a slew of Masta Killa’s sword-wielding associates.
In his attempts to avoid straying far from the grass-roots production that helped canonize Enter the Wu-Tang, Masta Killa enlists the sparse beat-makers that have characterized Wu-Tang’s sound. RZA produces three tracks, the rest being pretty much split between True Master and Allah Mathematics. RZA lends beats and vocal talent on “School”; his production is as on-point as ever, allowing for snippets of kung-fu theater and ominous melodies. Movie and television sample reels are always on-hand for the RZA and his team, and “School” is no exception. Its sample introduces a relevant theme of what inner city youths are up against in gloomy grade-school hallways. “School” is backed with a verse from MK’s personal vaults over a new frenzied beat, altogether different from the track’s opening.
This is mirrored by True Master’s work on the album; he scores one of its best in “Silverbacks,” featuring Inspectah Deck and GZA. The guest spots are as frequent as my naps, featuring all members of the Wu-Tang Clan at one time or another. No Said Date hearkens naturally back to the independent glory of 36 Chambers in its recognizable beat-smithing and refreshing flow from one of Wu-Tang’s least-known members.