"Wu Block"When MCs from Yonkers and Staten Island meet lyrical sparks will fly. The only question is – to what effect? For Wu-Block, a collaboration between Wu-Tang and D-Block, it’s a harmonious union, one that puts the esoteric nature of their neighborhoods on full display. It’s a story told by some of rap’s most talented oracles, and it beams with vivid street-life tales – from the absurd and excessive to the horrifically tragic. Their visions are inspired by the same environment, but their portraits tell completely different stories, making for a diverse yet completely cohesive narrative. Ghostface has openly proclaimed this album as a rebirth, and lyrically it does just that. For a while things have been ugly in hip-hop, and who better to provide the makeover than Pretty Toney and the LOX?

Crack Spot Stories feat. Raekwon & Jadakiss

Crack Spot StoriesAs an opener “Crack Spot Stories” couldn’t have been a better choice. Fithestate lays down a simple Dillaesque beat – crisp, clean breaks with choppy, groove-laden vocal samples – and does what a rookie producer does in this situation: step back and watch the veterans hold court. Ghostface and Rae stand out as true orators, speaking in code, rapping about crack stories in a haze of blunt smoke. Executed in a way that would make Iceberg Slim proud. Jadakiss and Sheek add the finishing touches, a knock out from the beginning: [LISTEN]

Give me 50 pushups
Give ya’ll a little piece
Faggots to the dime, niggas too weak

Cocaine Central feat. Styles P

Cocaine Central Cocaine Central” works on many levels. Shroom’s production is tight and visceral with just enough negative space to accentuate the acoustic affects on the MCs. Lyrically Ghost wastes no time, kicking off the track with a blurring narrative of his seemingly lucrative operation. He turns phrases with ease and punchlines emit from him with speed and grace, like a featherweight prize fighter. He compares himself to Steve Jobs which is a bit of a stretch, but in terms of coke, there’s no question he has his game together – cocaine central for a supreme clientele. Vintage Ghost: [LISTEN]

An oily based extract from green leaves
Set out to dry becomes white from the heat
Packaged up then retailed on the street

Drivin’ Round feat. Masta Killa, GZA & Erykah Badu

Drivin' RoundRhythmically “Drivin’ Round” is the mellowest song on the album, but lyrically it’s anything but. It’s an exclusive pass to the streets of the Wu-Block, one that runs through a cavalcade of socioeconomic problems. Styles P, Masta Killa, GZA, and Erykah Badu lay down a brushstroke narrative to the canvas, which adds an air of harsh reality to the somewhat absurd bravado on the album. GZA’s verse is steady, and well calculated. And as always he takes his time and lets the story tell itself, a master craftsman at work: [LISTEN]

Button on his lapel, picture of Obama
Four years later we stuck in the same drama
These street corners, just overcrowded saunas

Different Time Zones feat. Inspectah Deck

Different Time ZonesWith a business acumen as savvy as Tony Stark’s, it’s only natural to have a song dedicated to the fruits of his labor. It’s not about a glass house or a 90-inch flat screen entombed in the mouth of a lion or even two girls bugged out on coke steaming for some cunnilingus. Instead it’s about moxie, a level of confidence that nears astronomical proportions. It’s all about excess, and every minute of it is ensconced in blunt smoke. No hook needed. Just sit back and let the hilarity ensue: [LISTEN]

Larry King on mute
They about to bury Wesley for taxes
Then shout across the tube

Stella feat. Method Man

StellaGhostface is a man of many talents, and here he uses his investigative skills to track down a shady cohort named Stella. Sheek puts his two cents in, looking to eliminate the problem with one swing of his mighty pimp hand, while Method offers his council, preaching solemn patience. The exchange between the three is natural and organic. It’s legitimate and mutual respect between them, and it embodies the fraternity between Yonkers and Staten Island: [LISTEN]

Bitch I aint’ impressed with that
Why the fucks every briefcase short by at least ten stacks
We had a mill in each bag, there’s eighty grand missing