Released February 10th 2009
C-Rayz Walz gained his reputation in the underground scene as a battle rapper, and the man himself claims that Immortal Technique is the only MC who can go pound-for-pound with him. He is also part of the Wu-Tang affiliate group Almighty, so it is safe to say he has paid his dues in the culture of hip-hop. Unfortunately, to call this a C-Rayz Walz album is misleading as this album really proves to be group effort. The problem with Who the Fuck are You?, the fourth LP from C-Rayz, is that the emcee in question gets lost in a sea of guest rappers that only occasionally break past being mediocre. For an emcee of Walz’s stature to rap as little as he does on his own album, it’s a damn shame.
Listeners should remember Nas’s boast in Stillmatic: “My first album had no famous guest appearances. The outcome: I’m crowned the best lyricist.” As is the problem with too many albums these days, Who the Fuck are You? becomes the bizarro-Illmatic, as the number of guest appearances totals 18, and C-Rayz only flies solo on 5 out of 15 tracks.
Guest rappers are not necessarily a bad thing, but not only are the appearances on Who the Fuck are You? numerous, they are generally lackluster. A guest should add something to a track – think Eminem on Hova’s “Renegade” – but the majority of the ones on this album seem to be perpetually at a standstill.
Despite the gripes with the astounding volume of guests, the album is not at all bad. In fact, the first four tracks got me expecting a great album. After the intro, the album starts off with “The Art of Energy,” a dope track backed by a harpsichord lick. “Spread News” follows, and solid production lays the base for Walz to spit lines about his underground status.
“The basement’s locked, so I keep it low key, homie.”
“Love New York” follows, which is probably the best track on the whole record, despite the fact that it is littered with what is the most unattractive feature of the album, clocking 5 guest appearances. However, tight production by DJ Ruckspin leads to the artists juxtaposing the beauty of the city with its harshness. The biggest guest star of the album, Slug of Atmosphere, makes a guest appearance on the next track, “In Your Soul.” He comes strong, spitting:“I don’t front, so my soul watches over my back.” There are three guests in all and, including Walz, the four artists hold their own.
After these first four tracks the album drops off a bit. There are several tracks that are mediocre, and do not stand out or leave much of an impression. There are also some stinkers thrown in there. “Infected” is certainly not the strongest lyrical effort that C-Rayz has ever put forth, and it includes simple metaphors such as, “There’s blood in the streets, like the days of Rome.” Tracks like “Oxy Killa,” “Hot Sauce,” and “Crazy King” include annoying hooks and poor production features. “Red, White & Blue” has a strange dance-oriented beat that does not fit with the rest of the album at all. And it certainly does not fit with an underground rapper from Brooklyn.
Thankfully, “Deeper Feelings” and “Whiskey Mechanics” save the second half of the album from being bland. In the former, C-Rayz employs a slicker flow than any others on the whole album. In the latter, he collaborates with Roman E. Gripp to create some nice rhymes over a tight beat produced by Enock Root.
All in all, Who the Fuck are You? leaves something to be desired. Overall, the production is mediocre, and the lyrics follow suit. There are several tracks that are definitely worth checking out, and a few that will leave you scratching your head. At the end of the day, I wanted to listen to a C-Rayz Walz album, and instead, I got an underground collaboration where C-Rayz happens to be on every track.
Beats: 6.5 Lyrics: 7 Overall Listen: 7
Lesson Learned: If you have skills, show them, rather than deferring to others.