“Dreams and schemes to make a knot…
I sat on the stove and wrote C.R.E.A.M., one blunt 2 o’clock…”

—Raekwon from the song Heated Nights

Look, do you like Raekwon? Done – you’ll love this album. That was easy. [drops mic].

Just kidding, but it felt that easy when I was taking in Fly International Luxurious Arts, the latest album by the Shaolin heavy-hitter. It’s 13 tracks, and has dope features from some industry heavyweights like Melanie Fiona, Rick Ross and more; although, It also doesn’t leave any comfort zones – or really innovate in any way. What is does deliver is bars, dope production, and a reminder of what made us love him in the first place.   

Right out of the gate, Rae sounds as hungry as ever – as does Ghost, who is featured on the first joint, 4 In The Morning. He pretty much just knocks em’ out from there. I Got Money with A$AP Rocky, Wall To Wall with French Montana, the infectious F.I.L.A World with 2 Chainz all bang. Even the inevitable female focused joint with Estelle comes off nice. Standouts for me were Nautilus and the retrospective Heated Nights.

This doesn’t play out as an album that will necessarily win Rae any awards or new fans; not that it matters. Rae has a (large) dedicated fan base. This album will keep them all happy. Listen, some “street” artists wear thin over the years, but some artists can just never do wrong. The whole Wu has that ability, Kool G Rap has that ability – and as a solo artist, Rae has that appeal in my opinion. If he and ghost were 90 years old and STILL rapping about coke, money and retrospective street shit, I’d totally rock with it. 

This album is a must listen for all Wu and Chef fans. It’s fitting that he drops some quality music for the summer leading up the 20th anniversary of his “street-hop” blueprint Only Built For Cuban Linx. He sounds fresh as ever.