29. Raekwon f/ Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah, Method Man & GZA "House of Flying Daggers" (2009)
In the early 2010s, vets sticking to their traditional style is as much a part of hip-hop's landscape as newer artists. Wu-Tang may have shifted to the margins of relevancy, but Raekwon's Only Built for Cuban Linx II was a reassertion of that rapper's unwillingness to let that determine his legacy. "House of Flying Daggers," with its interpolation of Wu-Tang's "Clan In Da Front," was unapologetic in its retro sound and approach. Inspectah Deck, Rae, Ghost, Method Man were the foremost lyricists of the Clan, and everything about "House of Flying Daggers" was a celebration of the Wu.
It was the creation of mystique through a rush of gripping and—particularly in Ghost's case—viscerally disturbing imagery. It painted a picture of a violent world, criminally-minded, but gave it an especially stylized, signature feel, pulpy and portentous. The only thing to date it: Method Man's verse. He sounds revitalized, his lines full of internal rhymes, but towards the end focuses on the group's legacy ("Got a whole line of classic joints") and expresses his plans to push the music "past the point of no return, til it crash and burn, then placed inside Ol' Dirty Bastard's urn."
It's a fitting conclusion for a track where the clan managed to walk a fine line between sounding at once dangerously destructive, just like the old days, while acknowledging that things had changed. —David Drake
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