Wednesday, July 24, 2013

U-God & a review of "The Keynote Speaker"

Before I begin my review on U-God's new album, "The Keynote Speaker", I want to talk about him for a bit. Of course, he's a member of legendary group (and my favorite hip hop group of all time) Wu-Tang Clan, however, he's always been seen as one of the "lower tier" members of the Clan, in addition to Masta Killa. I've never had a problem with him, and throughout his career since the first Wu-Tang album, he's largely been hit or miss, respectively.  He's always been labelled as the "weak link" in the Clan, but as far as I'm concerned, there is/was NO weak link in the Wu-Tang Clan, and I disagree with any assertions that there's a weak link in every crew/group. His verse on the classic "Da Mystery of Chessboxin" will always remain his best, and that's where the debate would start. Most would say U-God did step up when on the Wu-Tang albums, as well as guest appearing on solo albums from fellow members, but he fell VERY short when it came to his own solo albums. 1999's "Golden Arms Redemption", which is due for a revisit from me, was highly slept on, released quietly, but overall it was good (others weren't impressed, even to this day). "Mr. Xcitement" I never checked out, same with "Dopium", which I've heard some good feedback about it. As you can see, his solo albums received little to no attention. On his fourth album, U-God does return, albeit with a lower profile than previous years. Let's check this out!






1. Vortex of My Mind (Skit) featuring Vivian Scarlett


2. Keynote Speaker
Produced By: Leaf Dog
Well, this was a decent enough opener, but not the type of opener I was expecting.
3 out of 5
3. Heads Up (featuring GZA & Scotty Wotty)
Produced By: DJ Homicide
GZA definitely still has it, no question about that, and his verse was the best. U-God was right behind him with a good verse of his own and Wotty didn't do too bad either.
4 out of 5
4. Inferno (Skit)
5. Fire (featuring Method Man & Scotty Wotty)
Produced By: Steve Reaves
Dope all around. Honestly, U-God seemed a little uninspired/different on this track, but Method Man, who ALSO still has it, delivered in a very good way.
4 out of 5

6. Fame (featuring Styles P)
Produced By: Leaf Dog

This apply titled song is RIGHT up Styles P's alley, and he continues his impressive lineup of guest appearances. Very good overall.
3.5 out of 5
7. Skyscraper
Produced By: DJ Homicide

This was ok, but nothing more.
2.5 out of 5
8. Heavyweight
Produced By: Teddy Powell

On a song with a title like this, I would expect the artist to bring it, not only on a lyrical level, but also showing why you're indeed a "heavyweight". Sorry U-God, I didn't get that on this one.
2.5 out of 5
9. Colossal Cosmos (Skit) featuring Vivian Scarlett

10. Stars
Produced By: DJ Homicide

I appreciate U-God was aiming for with this song, but either it felt like something was missing from it or it was something that sounded like it could've made a Kanye West album, circa Late Registration or Graduation.
2.5 out of 5
11. Golden Arms
Produced By: J. Serbe & J. Reynoso Jr.

Although the production here has a more modern sound, I like the throwback vibe, courtesy of the Raekwon sample, "tell Golden Arms maintain the fort!" I like this one right here.
3.5 out of 5
12. Room Keep Spinning
Produced By: The RZA
Not sure what he was going for with this one, but it was not good.
2 out of 5
13. Zilla
Produced By: DJ Homicide
Although I like the old school, 70s vibe of DJ Homicide's beat, this is another one of those songs where it's ok, but nothing more.
2.5 out of 5
14. Get Mine
Produced By: The RZA

Oh man, I've heard songs like this done BEFORE and BETTER. U-God's slowed up (not chopped & screwed) flow doesn't work at all here.
1 out of 5
15. Mt. Everest (featuring Inspectah Deck & Elzhi)
Produced By: Blastah Beatz

Well, U-God did his best to lyrically keep up with Deck and Elzhi, as they clearly outclassed him on this banger.
4 out of 5

16. Tranzform
Produced By: DJ Homicide

I must say again that a song of this type has been done before and better. It's almost sad because U-God, lyrically, is bringing nothing new to the table.
1.5 out of 5
17. Journey (featuring Kool Keith)
Produced By: Teddy Powell

"Not Cedric, but I'm an entertainer". Lol, really U-God? While the thought was nice, the actual execution leaves a LOT to be desired. Possibly the worst song on this album.
1.5 out of 5
18. Be Right There
Produced By: The RZA

Listening to this beat, you wouldn't think it was from RZA, but it is. U-God's flow is decent here, but it's mostly nothing we haven't heard before.
2 out of 5
19. Days of Glory
Produced By: Steve Reaves

I don't think he was meant to be taken serious with it, but U-God singing is a complete no no, even if it's just for the hook. Other than that, I don't have too much to say about this closer other than it's "ok".
2 out of 5
Well, this is not going to be long, lol. I only have three points to make:

1) Just by listening to him rap throughout this entire album, U-God has aged and most of the time, his flow is rather uninspired, slow, and it makes for an unpleasant listen, and believe me, I'm NOT knocking him for aging.

2) The "highlights" on this album ALL comes from the guest appearances. Meth, GZA, Deck, Elzhi, Styles P, and even Scotty Wotty all drop dope verses, leaving U-God seriously trying to play catch up on his own album, oddly enough.

3) The production was a mix between good and forgettable, if that makes sense.


Solely based on the features and about 1 or 2 decent songs here and there (Golden Arms is one of them), I'm going to go with a 2.5 star rating for this album and a slight recommendation to avoid, however, I will say to check out ONLY the songs with the guest MCs and the track "Golden Arms".

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