The DaVinci Code: The Vatican Mixtape Vol. 2

Artist: RaekwonTitle: The DaVinci Code: The Vatican Mixtape Vol. 2Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Conan Milne

While impatient fans foam at the mouth in anticipation of Raekwon's long overdue Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...II, Raekwon the Chef instead serves up this impressive starter that will likely keep the customers happy. His latest meal is The DaVinci Code: The Vatican Mixtape Vol. 2 (Icewater Inc.).

Rae stays strictly on his New York spit on standout offerings like the morose “Flawless Crowns”, rapping matter-of-factly over a downtrodden instrumental. As the Chef shows glimmers of hope with relatively upbeat lyrics, so too does the instrumental through the slight appearance of some uplifting chimes. If there's a downside to many notable cuts such as this, it's the running time. Granted, this is a mixtape, and such projects are notorious for offering impatient listeners snippets, The DaVinci Code is littered with under-cooked entrees. Just as one is beginning to get into the sing-song chorus of the suitably smooth "Range Rover", where Raekwon boasts of his whip being the cleanest around, or the bouncy dream team collaboration with Nas that is "Brothers Keeper" the track abruptly switches up, leaving the fans begging for another helping.

While few efforts on this mixtape stretch past the three-minute mark, fortunately those that do so prove to be worth checking out. The daunting trio of AZ, Ghostface and "Mr. Cuban Linx" serve up threatening street talk on (what else?) "New York!!", over the type of grimy production that all three of these MC's fit so perfectly. Throughout, the cut is spliced with vocal samples from some of The Big Apple's finest, adding that vital ingredient to an already impressive concoction.

Overall, the Chef has come through with something guaranteed to leave fans salivating at the prospect of his next solo record. If it wasn't for the all-too-abrupt end to several of the Ice Water leaders best servings, this would be essential to many a Wu-Tang collection. As it is, let's just hope that Rae doesn't spend too much longer cooking up that elusive main course.