DJ Chong Wizard: Hell's Kitchen (Raekwon vs Mobb Deep)

RZA’s beats are not just for any MC. Especially not those from the Abbot’s “prime” period of 1993-1997, when his production was unrivaled in depth and originality. The same can equally be said for Havoc, whose sinister rhythms from 1995-1999 is the foundation on which Mobb Deep’s reputation rests today.

It’s fitting then that DJ Chong Wizard has not chosen any new MCs to blend with the seminal production on Only Built for Cuban Linx and Hell of Earth. Instead, he offers a unique premise of Mobb Deep verses over the classic Raekwon album, while the Chef’s verses are combined with the Mobb’s brilliant sophomore offering.

Mobb Deep’s vocals carry the tape’s first half, and fit surprisingly well with RZA’s dense musical opus. Chong starts off by blending “The Infamous Prelude,” Prodigy’s famous trash talking skit aimed at Keith Murray, with Rae’s “Striving for Perfection” to perfectly set the tape’s ominous mood.

Mobb fans will enjoy placing the song titles, as Chong uses well known and underground songs from the group’s catalogue. “The Grimy Way” gets a new vibrant energy when it’s blended with “Criminology,” and Pee’s baleful lyrics on “G.O.D. Pt. III” become even more abrasive after Chong’s skillful blend with Rae’s “Rainy Dayz.”

Raekwon’s lyrics hold up their end on the tape’s second half. His verse on “C.R.E.A.M.” becomes “Huster’s Instinct” after combining with Hell On Earth’s lead track, and Rae’s sixteen from “Apollo Kids” becomes more potent over the sprawling strings of Mobb’s “Give It Up Fast.”

Despite the strong blends, Chong missteps come when he becomes a little too self-indulgent with the classic source material. Clocking well over an hour, obvious filler could have been trimmed such as Prodigy’s recent 6 minute plus rant against rappers (not to mention wasting the “Verbal Intercourse” instrumental over Pee’s nonsense). Also, more recent verses sound stilted over the classic production, as 50 Cent’s rhymes on “Outta Control” had no business over “Ice Cream.”

Still, DJ Chong has once again shown a keen ear for mixing styles and keeping his work above the abyss of novelty that most mixtapes succumb to. And after the innovative American Ironman, he has crafted a worthy successor with Hell’s Kitchen.

DJ Chong Wizard

"Infamous Knuckleheadz"

Infamous Knuckleheadz - DJ Chong Wizard

DJ Chong Wizard

"OG Cream Team"

OG Cream Team - DJ Chong Wizard