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Trio of second period goals leads Maine to 3-1 win over UMass hockey -

January 16, 2018

Small-ball lineup sparks UMass men’s basketball comeback over Saint Joseph’s -

January 14, 2018

UMass men’s basketball tops St. Joe’s in wild comeback -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s track and field have record day at Beantown Challenge -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s basketball blows halftime lead to Saint Joseph’s, fall to the Hawks 84-79. -

January 14, 2018

UMass hockey beats Vermont 6-3 in courageous win -

January 13, 2018

Makar, Leonard score but UMass can only muster 2-2 tie with Vermont -

January 13, 2018

Pipkins breaks UMass single game scoring record in comeback win over La Salle -

January 10, 2018

Conservative student activism group sues UMass over free speech policy -

January 10, 2018

Report: Makar declines invite from Team Canada Olympic team -

January 10, 2018

Prince Hall flood over winter break -

January 10, 2018

Minutemen look to avoid three straight losses with pair against Vermont -

January 10, 2018

Men’s and women’s track and field open seasons at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2018

Turnovers and poor shooting hurt UMass women’s basketball in another conference loss at St. Bonaventure -

January 8, 2018

Shorthanded, UMass men’s basketball shocks Dayton with 62-60 win -

January 7, 2018

Northampton City Council elects Ryan O’Donnell as new council president -

January 7, 2018

UMass power play stays hot but Minutemen lose 8-3 to UMass Lowell -

January 7, 2018

UMass hockey falls to UMass Lowell in 8-3 blowout -

January 7, 2018

UMass hockey falls short against Yale in 5-3 loss Friday -

January 5, 2018

Otis Livingston II, George Mason drop UMass men’s basketball 80-72 -

January 3, 2018

Second solo album from "The Chef" has critics talking

Wu-Tang fans unite! Raekwon “The Chef” has led the group back to the hip-hop forefront with his latest solo album, “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Part II.  The album, released on Sept. 8, features guest performances from all seven living members of the original Wu-Tang Clan and has been hailed by many industry insiders as the return of the gritty, raw style of hip-hop that launched the group into popularity in the 1990s.

Raekwon’s Northampton show will promote his first solo album since 1995. During the nearly 15 year solo hiatus, The Chef has put out three albums with the Wu and spent the last few years cooking up his latest masterpiece. It remains to be seen if this installation of “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” will match the critical acclaim of his first project. But his evolution as an MC has got a lot of critics talking.

The album features 22 tracks, all of which showcase an elevated style of lyricism while staying true to the raw street rap that Raekwon is known for. Now in his late 30s, Raekwon said in an interview with MTV News that he’s in a much “different frame of mind” than he was when he made his first album.

When it comes to album production, Raekwon went with nothing but the best. The majority of beats on “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Part II” are produced by RZA, Dr. Dre., and the late great J Dilla. No auto-tune or phony synthesizers here. This is nothing but raw, base-thumping hip-hop with a roster of artists that looks like a rapper all-star team.

The album features verses from over 10 prominent artists, including Jadakiss, Styles P, Busta Rhymes, Slick Rick, Beanie Sigel and of course, the entire Wu-Tang Clan. Their performances add to the album’s surprising diversity and help Raekwon assert himself as one of the most talented MCs in the game.

One of the most popular songs on the album, “New Wu,” featuring Method Man and Ghostface Killah, serves as an emblematic example of Wu’s evolution over the years. In a murderous third verse, Method Man outlines the clash of the gangsta’ lifestyle versus family and responsibilities. “This what the block missing/ the two-seater with the top missing/ and two divas with the tops missing/ now that’s living to me, I’m what these kids is killing to be/ but I don’t want my children to be.”  

A new side of Raekwon is on display on the track “Ason Jones,” a tribute to Wu member and hip-hop icon ODB ( Ol’ Dirty Bastard), who died of a drug overdose in 1994. The melodic, tear-jerking ode to ODB sharply contrasts the cutthroat force of the other tracks on the album.

In a music genre that is still somewhat adolescent, Raekwon and his fellow Wu-Tang members can boast a staying power that other rappers can only dream of. The amazing thing is, after all the success and praise, they continue to improve and adapt to their audience. “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx …Part II” is a prime example of that adaptation.

In the song “Kiss the Ring,” Raekwon sends a subtle message to young rappers and lyrically speaks on his status as a veteran in the game. “So salute and toast to the best who done it/ murder rap I spit for the vets who love it.” Tip your New-Era caps to the Chef and put your lighters in the air. Raekwon is back on the scene with a raw compilation that will remind you what real hip-hop is.

Noah Steinberg-Di Stefano can be reached at steinber@student.umass.edu

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