Even if he's one of the most affiliated affiliates in the Wu-Tang Clan universe, the lumbering, hoarse juggernaut dubbed Cappadonna is far from the most loved. Jump on any Wu message board and the reaction is generally, and arguably misguidedly, "meh," but there's a whole wealth of tracks on this mega and messy double-disc set that suggest he's "underappreciated" and entirely "slept on." The first killer blow comes right at the start, as "Real Life" opens Eyrth, Wynd & Fyre/Love Anger & Emotion with some real musicians, where horn section, organic piano lines, and background vocals (Cappadonna is multi-tracked, but still) combine for an anthem to bounce to, and sing along with as well. Later, it's Whitney Houston interpolating and simmering guitar lines for the "get your kid's mind right" stunner called "Children of Israel," while "The Better Life Movement" ("It's a cold world out there, we all need crumbs") surprises by going big and cinematic with producer J. Glaze borrowing a little of RZA's Man with the Iron Fists soundtrack style. Then there's the light, heart-warming bounce of the nostalgic "Boogah Hill" and Cappadonna's well-written, pro-family number "Pull Ya Live Together," and these advancements are balanced with the familiar, as "Rap Is Like Crack" offers the usual punch lines, bragging, and bellowing. Good times and getting better, and yet there's a second disc to consume, one where the Capp introduces his own Theodore Unit and blesses cohorts Lounge Mode and Sav Killz with all the mike time they desire. There are some big ballers (the bright, almost-disco number "Real Talk," the light-hearted, weekend-worshipping "Bar B Que," and either "We Hood Rich Now" or "Ease on Down the Road" for that silly Wu-flavored junkyard thrill), but it feels like a bonus mixtape tacked on to an almost accomplished album. Fans should think of the release accordingly and get ready for both the thrill of victory and the agony of too many extras. ~ David Jeffries
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- Ironman [PA] (Killah, Ghostface)