Some Shadows are Too Big to Come Out From
On U-God’s latest solo venture Keynote Speaker, this MC tries to prove that he’s not just one eighth of the Wu-Tang Clan, but a viable solo artist. When you’re an original member of one of the undisputed greatest hip hop groups ever formed, solo albums tend to become double edged swords. On one end, a release by any of its members has the promise of something familiar. On the other end, while the album might be good sometimes it’s only received as mediocre when compared to the high expectations the listeners may have come to expect.
The title track starts off fulfilling those high expectations. U-God not only brought his A-game here, but the beat can hold its own, as well. It’s a great start to the album by not only being a good song but it also lets U-God shine on his own without being encumbered by competing verses with any of his brethren. As expected with any Wu-related release, Keynote Speaker features several guest rhymes by familiar Wu-Gambinos. “Fire,” featuring Jackpot and Method Man, is one of those tracks. All three of these artists contribute amazing verses over a beat that can’t be described but must be heard. “Room Keeps Spinning” is one of the best tracks here and sadly one of the only four tracks represented on this album produced by the RZA. With that said, of this nineteen-track release the cohesion between the individual songs is lacking. One factor that seems present is the production value of the tracks themselves, each good in their own right but when compared to each other some don’t seem to reach the bar.
Keynote Speaker may not sit beside Only Built For Cuban Links or Tical as great solo efforts released by Wu-tang Clan members, but why does it have to? On its own terms, Keynote Speaker is a better album than most released thus far this year and that should be enough for you to want to give it a whirl.