How do you feel about vanilla ice cream? According to company surveys done by the International Dairy Foods Association of their ice cream selling members you’re probably a fan because it continues to be the number one selling flavor.
Some with differing tastes would argue that vanilla ice cream is too plain or lacks excitement while fans of vanilla would praise it’s simple sweetness and it’s remarkable consistency. East coast gangster rap has become the vanilla ice cream of hip hop over the past few decades. Simple boom bap beats and consistent street life focused subject matter have made it a giant of the genre, and until recent years it has always been the top selling variety of hip hop fans listen to.
Wu-Block is a collaboration between members of two important pillars of the east coast rap scene, Ghostface Killah of the monumental Wu-Tang Clan and Sheek Louch of the influential yet less widely known The LOX. Other members of Wu-Tang and The LOX make various appearances on different tracks throughout the album, but it’s obvious which members are running the show. Sheek appears on every track. Ghostface is featured on all but one, “Drivin’ Round” a smooth ride of a track featuring Sheek, Masta Killah, and the indomitable GZA trading verses about how everything they see driving around their neighborhoods has never changed for better or worse. Erykah Badu provides the muted yet silky sounding hook, “Step in the car and go round down by your lady, and I be waiting at the door.”
The rest of the album is fairly frozen into a cohesive group of beats with a grimy bump sort of sound. Tracks like “Crack Spot Stories,” “Pour the Martini,” “Cocaine Central,” “Stick Up Kids,” and “Been Robbed” also add a thematic similarity of drugs and crime that has become the de facto subject matter of the genre.
Standout tracks, well, they’re there but they’re just very similar to something you think you’ve heard in 1994. Method Man is a great addition to the song Pull Tha Cars Out, because his voice is always on point even if he’s still spitting bars about cash ruling everything. “If I spend a rack today, get that rack back tomorrow. I’m a cash ruler, rulers zig-zag along. Get my money off the hook like I’m Abdul-Jabar. Get my money off the book like Steve Paul.”
In comparing this to vanilla ice cream I want to point out that while this genre can indeed taste like the same old thing coming from other acts. When done with the diversity of vocal and verbal talent on retainer between these two respective groups it reminds you why you chose them both to begin with. East Coast hip hop and vanilla still can both have great flavor. So grab yourself a big spoon and start digging into this gallon of rap music.
- “Crack Spot Stories” (feat. Raekwon and Jadakiss)
- “Pour Tha Martini” (feat. Cappadonna)
- “Pull Tha Cars Out” (feat. Method Man)
- “Guns for Life” (feat. Styles P)
- “Coming For Ya Head” (feat. Styles P and Raekwon)
- “Cocaine Central” (feat. Styles P)
- “Take Notice”
- “Drivin’ Round” (feat. Masta Killa, GZA and Erykah Badu)
- “Different Time Zones” (feat. Inspectah Deck)
- “Stick Up Kids” (feat. Jadakiss)
- “All in Together” (feat. Styles P and Jadakiss
- “Do It Like Us” (feat. Raekwon)
- “Stella”(feat. Method Man)
- “Been Robbed”
- “Bust Shots” (feat. Inspectah Deck)