How bad does an album have to be for the rapper who made it to disown it completely? That question came up recently on N.O.R.E.’s “S.O.R.E.” album, and after listening to it I’m not convinced quality was the real issue. It certainly wasn’t a bad album no matter how Victor Santiago Jr. felt about it. That leads us nicely into U-God’s “Mr. Xcitement” though, another release that the artist insists not be counted as part of his official discography. As with Noreaga you don’t have to take our word for it — the evidence of his feelings about it were filmed and released online.
There are urban legends about “Mr. Xcitement” that have less direct evidence. It’s claimed that only 5,500 copies were sold but there’s no SoundScan data to confirm that. It’s said the album was hurt by “sample clearance issues” but we don’t know which samples weren’t cleared or why. The one myth I can bust for sure is that it’s “hard to find,” because I’m listening to it right now and physical copies can be had for about $20. That’s not cheap for sure but it’s not astronomical either. Perhaps this is one you should pick up for a dollar if you find it at a thrift or pawn shop either way.
If there’s a clear reason U-God wants to discredit this album it’s that it doesn’t feel like a Wu-Tang solo album. There are no RZA produced tracks, no True Master ones, and only one from 9th Disciple called “A Long Time Ago.” I don’t think it was released as a single but it would have done alright with the Wu base and maybe beyond. The instrumental is atmospheric, the finger snapping is a pleasant choice, and Ebony Burke is solid singing the hook. U-God’s never been credited as the best Wu rapper but he puts together cinematic verses here that hold up well.
“My mother said my father was a real live wire
Hustled on the avenue of Lennox
That he was a don, shot dope in his arm
Paid visits to the Methadone clinic
A straight womanizer, no religion
He just leaned on bitches
His name rung in the slums, niggaz run for they gun
Blood thirsty, he was so vicious”
Burke immediately returns on the next track “Stop (Carry On)” and does fine there as well, though I would have spaced out her appearances a bit. Speaking of limited Wu-Tang influence on the album though, there are no cameos from the likes of Method Man, Raekwon or even Cappadonna here. The only posse song to speak of is “Get Down” and while I like it just fine, it’s definitely strange to see U-God in a lineup that includes Boo Kapone, MC Eiht and Squeak Ru.
Since both Wu and non-Wu fans are ambivalent about U-God as a soloist, he may have also wanted to rethink this album’s length. 16 tracks and nearly 50 minutes of U make his gravelly vocals start to wear out their welcome, and when he starts singing his way through the closing track “Jenny” I’ve definitely had more than enough. THIS would be a reason for U-God to disown the album. This song right here.
U-God is inherently capable of making good to above average solo albums despite how he’s perceived in some circles. “Venom” is one I can immediately recommend without hesitation. “Mr. Xcitement” isn’t. At times he hits his stride on tracks like “You Don’t Want to Dance” and the very Wu-esque “Drugs” (despite regrettable hooks on both), but the good moments are too few and mediocre ones too numerous to list. Still I can’t say U-God’s dislike of this album is entirely justified. I can understand why he wouldn’t perform anything from it in concert, but if you’re a Wu or U fan, it’s aight.