Having Wu-Tang Clan members Ghostface Killah and Raekwon (also known as Raekwon the Chef) in town is more of a good thing than people realize. Apart from the charismatic Method Man and the walking Behind the Music episode that is Ol' Dirty Bastard, not everyone is well versed in the full rundown of the Wu. (Okay, last time: RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Killah, Masta Killa, U-God, Inspectah Deck, and let's not forget Ol' Dirty.) And especially since seemingly fortnightly the cousin of the guy who does the taxes for the sister of one of the roadies for the Wu-Tang Clan comes out with an album, it has become even more difficult to separate the pros from the cons. But these two shouldn't be ignored.

Apart from being partners in crime, Killah and Raekwon are cited as the most underrated orators in the whole Staten Island circle of superfriends. This is not to say that the rest of the Wu-Tang MCs are just a bunch of overinflated mumble-mouths. (Okay, maybe Ol' Dirty -- but he brought that shit on himself!) But Killah and Raekwon have been known to drop the mystic Asian aesthetic that has made the Clan one of the most intriguing cliques in rap history in favor of just shooting from the Wu-Wear-covered hip. Raekwon's 1995 solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, which features collaborative vocals from Raekwon and Killah, is considered not just one of the best rap albums from a member of Wu-Tang posse but one of the best rap albums period. Peter Shapiro, author of The Rough Guide to Hip-hop, put Raekwon's vivid rhymes in perspective when he wrote that the album was full of "straight-up street tales that were as grim, nasty and heartbreaking as anything Mobb Deep ever came up with."

After Linx brought Raekwon front and center, he reteamed with cohort Killah for his acclaimed 1996 solo effort, Ironman. So it helps when brothas like these break out from their respective packs. And even though they may not have higher profiles than the charismatic Method Man, the ambitious RZA or even the nutty-as-a-Blue Bell Almond Bar Ol' Dirty Bastard, they are content with having their rhymes say volumes about who they are and what kind of noise they can bring. In their case, words speak louder than actions.

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Craig D. Lindsey
Contact: Craig D. Lindsey