What defines an EP? Most would say that it has to do with an album’s length, although even that gets confusing. Modest Mouse and The Fiery Furnaces have both put out extended plays that are longer than most Weezer records. But whether the artist views an EP in terms of minutes, record speed, or number of tracks, one thing is certain: it gets them thinking about concision.
Lost Jewlry, the latest effort from Raekwon, clocks in at 32 minutes — less than half the length of his second mafioso opus, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II. While the precision on this set is welcome, The Chef clearly views Lost Jewlry as little more than a warmup for his upcoming full-length, F.I.L.A. (Fly International Luxurious Art), evidenced by the effortless production and once-removed narration.
Rae’s smoky voice has never made him the most threatening sounding member of Wu-Tang, but he’s especially laid back here, content to play the storyteller rather than the active participant. On “Young Boy Penalties”, he cautions up-and-coming thugs on the dangers of operating without any sort of moral code. Despite the menacing title, “Lead Season” locks into a hazy groove of looped organ and guitar as he waxes nostalgic about his glory days of crime. Like everything else on Lost Jewlry, the grime is viewed through a fog of cigar smoke and evaporated cognac.
While the reclined perspective makes for a lucid listening experience, Lost Jewlry would benefit from a little more bite. Faith Evans adds warmth to the romantic pledge “Hold You Down”, but you can’t help but wonder if a guest spot from perpetual accomplice Ghostface would have mixed some genuine terror in with the smoothness. Hopefully Raekwon can better balance out variety and brevity on F.I.L.A..
Essential Tracks: “Young Boy Penalties”, “Lead Season”