Cappadonna used to be touted as the future of the Wu-Tang Clan. But a couple of uninspired solo albums later, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Hell Razah, on the other hand, has proved to be somewhat of an underdog story. As one-fourth of Sunz of Man, he held it down but was largely overshadowed some of the other MCs in the group.
Over the last few years, however, he’s released a solid string of discs, from "Renaissance Child" to "Razah’s Ladder," a collaboration with producer Blue Sky Black Death, and now "Ultra Sounds of a Renaissance Child."
If the title has some familiar elements to it, you won’t be surprised to find that the content does as well. Taking the melancholy soul loops of "Razah’s Ladder" into slightly darker territory, Ultra Sounds is a continuation of Hell Razah’s exploration of the ills of ghetto life, told through his understated-yet-commanding baritone.
After limping in with a few weak numbers, “Renaissance Ages” kicks things into gear with a deep, dark piano loop and clattering percussion. “Born & Raised” cribs Marlena Shaw’s “Woman of the Ghetto” to nice effect, “Contractions” chops up a pleading string loop, and lounge-jazz-piano adorns “Crack Baby Cradles,” which busts out with a horn-powered breakdown.
Wu-junior 4th Disciple and a host of relative unknowns provide the production, and while there a few generic-sounding tracks, the foundation holds firm most of the time.
The general theme of the album seems to be the trials and tribulations of raising a baby in urban poverty, but it’s mostly a jumping-off point for Hell Razah to give a bleak portrait of life around the way.
So it might not exactly be a classic on the order of "36 Chambers or Liquid Swords," but it’s yet another solid addition to the Wu pantheon.
Listen to samples from "Ultra Sounds of a Renaissance Child" at Amazon.com.