He gets some good lines in all over Victory, of course; any Raekwon song with "Story" in the title is bound to be a good one, and both "Soldier Story" and the 9th Wonder-produced "A Pinebox Story" find his masterful narrative skills and unflinching brutality as sharp as ever, still stringing together bits of seemingly disconnected detail until a picture begins to take shape. But, when he drops a Twilight reference in his very first verse here, he seems a little lost without a plot. It can't all be smoke-filled backrooms or alleyway beatdowns, but elsewhere, Rae seems a little scattered, either resorting to stock phrases ("Riding at breakneck speed/ Gimme weed/ Gimme cheese/ I like cheddar") or finding a reference-- any reference-- that sorta works. (Raekwon, if you're wondering, is on Team Jacob.) The occasional line pops out, but it's rare that he grabs you for a whole verse that doesn't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Victory's guest roster hits more than it misses; the elder statesmen types bring about what you'd expect to the table, though Prodigy had me rolling with "you tacky like headrest TVs." It's rising star Fred Da Godson who fares best here, though, noting on "Luxury Rap" that he's "a phenomenon [like] Travolta with the tumor" who "should rhyme with some Wallabees on." But, apart from the irrepressible Busta and a few of the more excitable youths, these guys tend to trade in the kind of cold-eyed, unexcitable confidence Rae does, which-- coupled with Rae's own coolness of demeanor and the general steeliness of these beats-- leaves one with the weird feeling that there's both a lot of Raekwon on this record and not very much Raekwon at all.
bring back begongo!!