The long-awaited new solo disc from Wu-Tang “Genius” GZA is more cohesive than it should be, considering nearly a dozen different producers assembled its tracks. It’s a top-heavy record, with show-offs like the chorus of “Alphabets,” which strings together its own hip-hop-enlightenment ABCs, and “7 Pounds” delivering linguisto-dazzlement for its own sake early on before Pro Tools moves on to straighter, grim narratives of street-lived lives gone sour — gravel-voiced but smooth-flowing noirs like “Short Race” and “Path of Destruction.” The car-centric track “0% Finance,” whose beat begs the punny adjective “driving,” divides the two chunks nicely. If many of the tracks that follow offer dark soundscapes you’d like to call “cinematic,” GZA gives permission with the closing, Gary Numan-quoting track “Life Is a Movie” (on which he’s joined by Wu-Tang brother RZA, fresh off his latest make-believe outing as Bobby Digital, Digi-Snacks) and the all-whisper crime story “Cinema.”
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