Grimlenz (Ltd. Edition) - Wy Syndicate Mar 10, 2010 2:21:31 GMT -5
Post by reccollectah on Mar 10, 2010 2:21:31 GMT -5
The year was 1998. The First round of Wu Solo albums was completed and followed by the stellar Double album “Forever”. Hip Hop was still recovering from these uppercuts and RZA unleashed another stash of hidden gems: “The Swarm”. Killa Bees stung hip hop heads all over the globe again leaving everyone wondering just how big this jar of Shaolin talent was .
One of the most remarkable tracks certainly was Wu Syndicate’s “Where was heaven”. A buzz quickly arose and got even bigger next year when Wu Chronicles Vol I dropped where they smacked us in the face with “Latunza hit”. A month later their self titled debut was released, an instant classic and then … nothing. Back in the day, I didn’t have internet to tell me what happened to these cats so I thought they just folded … a shame.
But then a few years ago, we got the joe Mafia solo, a Syndicate mixtape, name changes and rumours of beef between Napoleon and Mya. Then came proof that Mya and Mafia had joined forces again, even taking up the Wu Syndicate name.
End of 2009 arrived the digital version of the “Grimlenz” which was offered to the public through Myspace almost for free. Quickly followed by the announcement of a very limited edition in a physical form with lots of extra tracks through Wu-International.
And now, over 10 years after getting hooked on their debut album, I got my copy of “Grimlenz”, one of a 100…
Which leads skeptic readers to the question “ Is it worth coughing up an extra $ 17 after already having paid for the dl version ?” Which leads to the following (quite brilliant) answer : “ HELL YEAH ! “
… for the people who prefer a more elaborate, well defended answer than the one above : get yourself a drink, put on some Syndicate tracks and read on !
First of all, a lot of collectors prefer the real deal above digital downloads. Yep, you can count me in too : No collection of zeroes and ones beats opening a jewel case, getting the disc out and putting it in the player while already admiring the artwork . Then sitting oneself down while the first track sets off and going through the liner notes all the while enjoying some good music in good audio quality . An album is like a woman : why settle for a digital one through the internet when you can lay your hands on a real one ? I rest my case, your Honour. Whatever my I-Tunes colleague wishes to use in his defense, I object.
Second pro: instead of 11 tracks , you now have 19 on this ltd version. Do the maths.
Third pro: the music : It’s not good … it’s great ! Been listening over and over again since I received the disc. First you need to remember this isn’t 1999. No DJ Devastator, no Smokin Joe, no Mathematics . This is Wu-Syndicate anno 2010. Enter Antagonist ( and a return to a culture lost in hip-hop when one producer or a limited consistent few produced an album to give it that coherent feel, something that is revived in this album). He produced 14 out of 19 tracks, so you could say he designed the modern day Wu Syndicate sound . Add Myalanski’s voice change and some fans might have to need a bit of getting used to this album. Don’t panic, it grows on you, trust me.
Let’s have a listen:
1. The beginning/intro ( Ltd edition only):
is exactly what it claims to be , a mix of all their great tracks from back in the day and even snippets of songs not yet released … good times there bundled in some 2 minutes. A melancholic treat for my ears.
2. The Light’s here:
Right away Joe Mafia and Myalanski prove they have grown subjectwise. In a very catchy groove they tackle American economy and politics of this day and age . “Whatever happened to the American Dream ? Its turned into a nightmare. For those that been in the dark: the light’s here.” Deep stuff to kick it off, people !
“G.R.I.M.L.E.N.Z. … Grimlenz !”
Oh my god, it doesn’t get any grimier than this . Over a extremely fat pounding bas Antagonist pours out some claps to create a very menacing beat, ads some synths and cinematic sounds et voilà : Le nouveaux beaujolais est arrivé. Grand Cru this one.
4. Hell ( Ltd edition only):
Over a simple but again addictive piano loop Joe and Myalanski paint an utterly dark picture of the hoodlife anno 2010. Can listen to this all day, folks.
At first listen a bit of a weaker attempt but this one grows on you with further listening sessions, don’t give up on this one too soon. Nice LL Cool J lyric sampling by Joe too ( from back in the day where LL mattered, sigh).
6. The Syndicate( Ltd edition only):
Daaaaaaaaaaaaamn, remember the Wu-Syndicate interview here where Myalanski didn’t really want to tell what his problem was with Napoleon ? Seems like he was holding it all in to spit it over this monster of a track where he simply tears Napoleon a new one . Note the very clever use of samples of a Napoleon interview to knock the guy even further out the box. Impressive.
7. Knockin off:
Not as impressive as previous tracks, came across as a filler, one the album would have done without .
The second the organs kick off this track you know this is gonna be something else. The guys sound determined to show the competition they’re back. The chorus sounds amazing, like a modern day ghetto prayer poured into an moving melody. Another highlight .
9. Killa beez stung ( Ltd edition only):
If you like it grimey, here’s another fix.
Halfway the album and so far no track failed my anticipation. All extra tracks till now even proved to have “killer”-status. Now where did that big grin on my face come from , I wonder ?
Let’s carry on, shall we ?
10. Wanna Beez:
“Too many wanna Be Pimps, and Kingpins with their drugs, too many wanna Bee Geez, look at these wannabe thugs” … Sounds like Mya still had some scores to settle with Napoleon after recording his “The Syndicate” track. Speaking of Napoleon, anyone missing him so far ? Not me if they keep this up till the end of the album.
11. Hands out:
Antagonist thought it was time to get the organ out again and to use it to its full effect, this way creating another cinematic beat where thugs are ‘kindly’ asked to keep their hands out of Mya’s pocket. Better listen , guys. Sounds like he means it as he spits viciously about how he had to do it all by himself , getting no help from anyone. Venom drips off this one by the gallons.
12. Eye Candy:
Time to take it a bit more relaxed. Like Myalanski says “ a little sth from the lab you can dance too”. While they’re at it they also assure us everything is still cool with the RZA. Which is off course great to hear, cough- get in the studio with the man-cough !!!
As your Wu-Doctor I advise each and everyone of you to listen to this at least 10 times a day, all problems will quickly disappear. That ‘ll be 20 $, in cash please. Off you go.
14. Talk now( Ltd edition only):
Yet another very grim track feat Shaka Amazulu the 7th. Keep em coming , plz.
15. Ocho ( Ltd edition only):
A tribute to one of their homies from back in the day to celebrate his release from prison paved over Dj Muggs’ “Tequila Sunrise”-instrumental. This sounds perfect , as in “when finished recording with the RZA , fly to LA and do an entire album with Muggs. “ As he’s in a collaborative state of mind lately anyway, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.
Interestingly the featured guest here refers to himself as Ocho, the character from the previous track … ?
Meanwhile Antagonist serves another dish of grimlenzia, while Joe and Mya look at their joined past only to conclude “the Syndicate’s back muthaf**kaz” . No doubt there .
17. Only heaven knows ( Ltd edition only):
Fans who checked Myalanski’s solo “Drastic measures” already know this gem. Others who haven’t will smack themselves in the head for missing this last year. (Please note this version hosts a Joe Mafia verse not available on Mya’s album ) Same level as “Where was heaven”, need I say more ?
18. The end:
“Time to bring it to a conclusion, life been grim through my lenz” Mya says, while he scratches his head wondering how he survived it all . Joe Mafia even starts somewhat of a prayer. Sounds corny ? Not in the least. On the background we get a sober, fitting beat giving us the perfect atmosphere to conclude this impressive album.
Well, not just yet … after a minute of silence we slide into:
19. Hands out ( Hidden bonus remix) ( Ltd edition only):
Not bad as a remix but I think I prefer the first version .Somehow that beat seemed to fit the chorus better. Still worth more than one listen though.
You kinda guessed it by now I reckon. I prefer this ltd edition ( only 100 copies pressed worldwide ) and recommend it to anyone with fond memories of the Wu Syndicate album. Or to (kind of) lend a Myalanski chorus : “ Get your hands in your pocket …..” .