I am a huge fan of Hip-Hop / Rap. I’m always bumping quality music, while I work, drive, chill, or have sex. My older brother is also a fan and recently told me to give Raekwon’s FILA (Fly International Luxury Art) album, which dropped on April 25th, 2015, a listen. The first song I heard from Rae’s second solo album was “I Got Money” ft. ASAP Rocky — it blew my fucking mind. For such a classically basic title, “I Got Money” brings the heat. Produced by S1, it was destined to be brilliant. I have always admired Raekwon’s unparalleled and universally acclaimed (2-3) lyricism and flow, which is at it’s finest on this slow, track. Give it a listen and you’ll understand what I mean when I say that Raekwon’s storytelling and lyrics are sometimes so complexly gangster that they can’t even be deciphered by the rap mavens at Genius, but when you hear Rae speak them they make perfect sense. Although this track wasn’t selected as a single for the album (which makes sense sound wise), it can definitely stand alone.
As for the rest of the album, I find it to be more in line with Raekwon’s sound aesthetic. Tracks like Nautilus, Live to Die, or 4 in the morning could have come straight from his ‘95 “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” with their insane rhymes and face paced flow.
With dope features from Ghostface, ASAP Rocky, French Montana, Busta Rhymes, 2 Chainz, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, Melanie Fiona, Assassin, Estelle, and Liz Rodriguez, it is more than evident that Rae is beyond respected in the industry and for good reason. Although he has received some criticism for allowing more poppy rappers (French Montana, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross) to drop verses or sing choruses on his album, I appreciate each featured artist adding their own flare and pacing on their respective tracks. Certain critics are upset that he has watered down his own craft, juxtaposing clunky, unimaginative lyrics next to his own masterful ones. I think that FILA turned out to be an absolutely sick project and after giving the whole album a listen through a few times, I would throw the Chef a 4/5 rating. Well done, Shallah Raekwon.
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