Raekwon, ‘Fly International Luxurious Art’

Anyone expecting classic “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx”-like density and sonic design from the great Wu-Tang Clan member’s sixth solo record is bound to be a bit disappointed to hear him open his sound to mainstream influences. Raekwon remains one of hip-hop’s most detailed and visceral MCs. What’s troubling is the space he yields to popular but less-talented rappers like 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, and French Montana, whose overly familiar and vague turns clank when juxtaposed with Rae’s complexity. The misfires (“F.I.L.A. World”) and pure pop moves (“All About You”) are balanced by tight, tumultuous tracks that bring some gravity: “4 in Da Morning” (featuring the always welcome Ghostface Killah), “Live to Die,” and “Heated Knights” feature some of the disc’s most urgent verses. If a collaboration with Snoop Dogg, “1, 2 1, 2,” exceeds expectations, it also reflects this record’s flaw: It needs more Raekwon. (Out Tuesday)


ESSENTIAL “4 in Da Morning”