In the mid-1990's, the Wu-Tang Clan had the rap game by the balls, and every rapper in the country, from VA (Wu-Syndicate) to the west side (Black Knights) was trying to get Wu affiliation. With this sweeping dominance of hip-hop came a new era in lyrics and emceeing. While standard NY thug shit still held some power, Wu cats were bringing new, weird styles onto the scene. Ol' Dirty, the man with no father to his style, stepped up with drunken ramblings that somehow managed to rhyme. Ghostface relied on a dope flow and mad shoe references, leaving his fans to figure out his rhymes later. Killah Priest worked in bible references. And Cappadonna Goines just sorta talked.
Donna's style is way out there, no doubt, and you either love it or you hate it. Those who hate explain his membership in the Wu with rumors that he has the only real mob ties in the group or that he has been around forever and actually taught Meth how to flow. And with some of the dumbest lyrics of all time blessing this album, it's hard to argue. When he closes off "Check for a Nigga" with the words "When you in the woods, check for a nigga / when you in the garbage, check for a nigga," I don't know whether to laugh or cry that this album went gold. The bottom line is that for a lot of "The Pillage," Cappadonna comes off as a retarded Ghostface Killah with a deeper voice.
But let me clarify that -- when I listen to Ghostface, it's like music. Ghost's flow is so tight that he makes you forget that you don't have a damn clue what he's talking about most of the time. On the other hand when I listen to down south rap or KISS-FM, I don't think about the music too much; I just enjoy it at face value and appreciate how ridiculous it is. I find "The Pillage" to fit nicely between these two concepts. On one hand, Cappadonna says some shit that is almost a parody of Wu scientifics, like the hook on "Slang Editorial." And the first time I heard "Oh Donna" I just gave up and decided it was so strange it was dope. All that aside, Cappadonna can hold his own on the mic just fine. "Run" for example is some undeniably tight story-telling.
Even if you aren't feeling Cappadonna, there are some very good reasons to dig "The Pillage." RZA and True Master come correct on the production almost the whole way through, and the unavoidable Wu cameos are much above average. On "Supa Ninjaz," Meth rips shit to pieces and even U-God spits a respectable verse. There are a lot of positives on this album musically; and in the aftermath of "The Ying and the Yang" I'd say "The Pillage" stands not as a great album but one that easily betters many other Wu-Tang Clan solo projects.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: June 23, 2001