Masta Killa has remained true to the raw image created by Wu-Tang’s debut “Enter 36 Chambers.” He surprised the core fans when he stepped up as one of the artists to hold down the Clan when they started to slip from the top of the rap game. While Ghostface drops an album full of ghetto love songs and Method Man teams up with Red for some bouncy, dope smoking, antics (not that this is necessarily a bad thing); Masta Killa released two rock solid albums in “No Said Date” and “Made in Brooklyn.” Coming March 30th, 2010, we get an album of Live recordings from the Masta.

Honestly, there are only two major pieces of information you need to know to determine whether a live album is worth your hard earned green: 1) How is the selection of material? 2) How does the live recording sound?

The choice of tracks on this live album is very solid. Check the tracklisting below:

* Mystery of Chessboxin’ (Accapella)
* Armored Truck 
* Silverbacks ft. Inspectah Deck & GZA
* Duel Of the Iron Mic ft. GZA
* School
* Grab the Mic
* No Said Date
* In the Hood
* Love Spell ft. Startel
* D.T.D.
* Street Education ft. Streetlife
* Whatever ft. Streetlife & Prodigal Sunn
* Digiwarfare
* Fam Members Only ft. GZA
* Guillotine (Swordz)
* Triumph ft. Inspectah Deck & GZA

The most represented album is not surprisingly, Masta Killa’s celebrated debut, “No Said Date,” and it would be difficult to argue the particular cuts selected. Then there are a number of tracks from various albums from the golden era of the Wu, which are always welcome additions. Strange is the lack of joints from his sophomore album, as if he is shunning the work. Many called “Made in Brooklyn” a backwards step from “No Said Date,” but not representing it in anyway is a drastic measure – perhaps Masta Killa himself dislikes the overall product that resulted from his efforts.

Many fans will be in dismay when they really dig their teeth into the album though. The reason? It would not be fair for Masta Killa to cover parts of others in these tracks, so when the original artists are not available the song it results in a truncated version of classic material This is particularly annoying for tracks like “Triumph,” an epic song, that certainly deserves to maintain its original integrity. This means that 16 songs of typical length amount to this live album that runs right around the 40-minute mark.

To answer question 2: Yes, the sound quality is acceptable. Masta Killa’s lyrics are not drowned out by the crowd, which is often a problem with live discs. In fact, it seems like the crowd is not really into it. I imagine the concert to be in an intimate, smoke-filled, venue.

The biggest problem with “Masta Killa Live” is that it does not offer anything new. My recommendation would be to go grab your copies of all of these CD’s (of course, buy them if you don’t have them) and make your own compilation using the same tracklisting and you will be infinitely more pleased with the result. Strictly rap fans are going to hate me for saying this, but stick to buying live albums of Dave Matthews Band, or other musicians that actually do something different from their studio work when they are on stage. I don’t expect Masta Killa to pick up a trumpet anytime soon, but he at could at least drop some freestyles or add new verses.

The rating for this album is taking into consideration the fact that tracks are shortened and that they do not sound as good as the studio versions. Masta Killa is undoubtedly a quality emcee. He surprised us all when he released his very good solo work, yet he surprises us again by dropping a mediocre live album when he has so much to work with.

Masta Killa :: Live
5Overall Score