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Raekwon – Unexpected Victory (H2O)

3 January 2012

The most prolific member of the Wu-Tang Clan didn’t waste any time kicking off 2012 with this gem mixtape. In addition to being the most prolific, Raekwon The Chef is also the most consistently excellent MC in the group. Since 2009, when he started cranking out releases constantly, the surprise is that his work hasn’t been diluted but only gotten better. As expected, Unexplained Victory is not a cohesive record. Even the sound levels vary from track to track. The instrumental intro exchanges the Shaolin samples for some Ennio Morricone feel. The only problem with the first real standout track, “A Pinebox Story”, is that it clocks in at only 93 seconds. Following up is “Goodfellas”, the first Mafioso rap track on the tape. Generally, I find the genre tired but with the right backing track, it almost doesn’t matter what you rap about. I’ll still be listening. This is usually Rae’s strength. The production on his records shine. The druglord theme, “This Shit Hard”, is an excellent example. Not so good is the most high profile guest spot. Busta Rhymes joins Chef on “MTV Cribs”, a track as uninteresting as Cribs or anything else on MTV. “A Few Good Men,” gets things back on track as lesser known MCs Vado & Tommy Nova carry the load. The now defunct duo Capone-N-Noreaga have perhaps the most solid contribution to the tape with “Chupa Cabra,”. The concept of releasing mixtapes, I would assume, is to keep fans interested with something free but, ultimately, uneven or subpar. With the title Unexpected Victory, it would seem that there wasn’t much expectation but it turned out better than expected. Victory? I don’t know. But definitely not defeat.

You can download it yourself free from Datpiff.