Save some space on the board, post all your Mathematic reviews on this thread. I'll post up any official reviews I find too. Here are the first couple. (mods, might be a good idea to sticky this?)
Originally Posted by Pitchfork MediaMathematics
[Nature Sounds; 2005]
We're a long way from 1997, when the Wu-Tang Clan's second album moved 600,000 units in its first week. Eight years later, in The Wu-Tang Manual, RZA marks '97 as a turning point, when he began "converting Wu from the dictatorship it had been to a democracy." Maybe Ezra Pound was onto something when he famously argued that fascism was beneficial art: The democratic incarnation of Wu-Tang has birthed stellar efforts from Ghostface and RZA, but has also turned out some forgettable solo joints and spotty group albums. Method Man seems to be spending more time on screen than on wax. Cappadonna's driving a taxi in Baltimore. Dirty passed on. "After the laughter..."
Mathematics has been a quiet Clan associate since day one-- he designed their famous logo (an early draft had a hand clutching a hilariously gory severed head sticking out of the now-iconic W), and contributed RZA-sanctioned beats for albums like Ghost's Supreme Clientele and Meth's Tical 2000: Judgment Day. On his second LP, Mathematics succeeds where other recent Wu efforts have faltered by keeping it hot and simple. Instead of trying to push things forward, Math sticks to the basics, and The Problem plays like a subtly modernized précis of vintage '90s Wu-Tang styles. Should've been called The Solution: Take mid-to-up-tempo, cinematic beats and use them for blazing posse cuts that mingle the entirety of the Clan (including Dirt) with competent Nü-Tangers like Eyeslow, Hot Flames, and Bald Head; repeat as necessary.
The Problem opens with a reminisce, natch: "C What I C", where Mathematics's skittering drums and snake-charming melody pave the way for Eyeslow and T-Slugz to reprise the street-reportage/pining for simpler times themes of "Can It Be All So Simple"-- see also the beautifully expressive horns of the elegiac "Tommy". "Strawberries and Cream" is a honeyed, profane slow-jam with a watery soul melody (remember "Love Jones"?) and swaggering romantic raps from RZA and Ghost (one hopes his line about "high school pussy" is a reminisce as well). Where was U-God on that one?
You've got your party jams: "John 3:16", where Meth monkeys around on a springy cartoon beat, sing-songing hooks and punchlines ("got Milton Bradley hating the game") like Nelly with a personality; "Rush", which pits Meth's rubber chickens against GZA's precisely clipped fingernail rhymes; the bounce-funk club banger "Two Shots of Henny". Then there are the thrillingly grim tracks: "Winta Sno" gets stupid frosty with silvery minor chords and nihilistic crime rhymes; Ghost and Rae slang-bang "Real Nillaz" over frantic drums and skeletal metallic accents; on "U.S.A." the bombastic spook-house synths are well-contrasted by Masta Killa's stark straight-talk. There's something sly about imbuing all new songs with a "best-of" aura, and it makes for a strong Wu release. -Brian Howe, June 13, 2005