Rolling Stone - 3 stars out of 5 -- "For more than 20 years, Rae has been one of the most gifted heirs to Slick Rick's storytelling legacy; here, he keeps it going with a 44-minute journey into opulence."
Spin - "Raekwon is the deadpanning, teeth-gritting Don of Staten Island, who's long cut one of gangsta rap's more venal figures: a vanquisher-for-hire who comports himself with the utmost criminal sagacity."
NME (Magazine) - "From thunderous Mafioso fable 'Live To Die' to A$AP Rocky-starring calypso riot 'I Got Money' via Snoop Dogg collab '1,2 1,2', the Chef's steely signature East Coast flow has seldom sounded more imperious."
Recording information: Beast Music Studios, New Rochelle, NY; Icehouse Studios, North Brunswick, NJ; Platinum Sound Recording Studio, NYC.
The sixth studio album from Raekwon is conceptually driven by aviation, opulence, and style, blowing his crew the Wu-Tang Clan's classic track "C.R.E.A.M" into a more money-loving, capitalism-accepting suite of songs. Cash rules everything around the rapper, and yet he's got enough of it that the A$AP Rocky feature "I Got Money" taunts the listener with a child's "nyah-nyah-nyah," while "F.I.L.A. World" "comes out of Bank of America/Big knot on me, I'm comfy" because the revolutionary maneuvers Raekwon is working on here mean finding the bank with the best rates. For veteran fans, that might be as irksome as when Ghostface Killah goes full bedroom R&B, but F.I.L.A., the album, loves coming at the topic from all sorts of creative, attractive angles. "Revory (Wraith)" with Ghostface and Rick Ross finds producer Bluerocks offering the same kind of claustrophobic soul music that Wu listeners get from RZA, while Swizz Beatz and Jerry Wonda give "Sound Boy Kill It" a suitably stripped dancehall beat. Adding to the excitement is producer Scoop DeVille, acting as a one-man Bomb Squad with the hectic throwback production he gives the Snoop Dogg feature "1,2 1,2." Put the strong closer "Worst Enemy" on the end and the rapper skillfully returns the listener to the real world with a list of worthwhile grievances. More fine than fierce, Fly International Luxurious Art may not be on the man's top shelf, but it's a sturdy and entertaining effort well worth its place in the Chef's catalog. ~ David Jeffries
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