Artist: MathematicsTitle: The ProblemRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Bill "Low-Key" Heinzelman
During the heyday of the Wu-Tang Clan, DJ Mathematics was viewed as one the next big producers out of the camp. With his stellar production on Ghostface's Supreme Clientele, Method Man and Redman's Blackout and the Wu's Iron Flag and The W, Mathematics has slowly built up an impressive catalogue. However, Mathematics has yet to branch out beyond his team and bring his gloomy beats to the masses. This once again rings true with his sophomore album, The Problem (Nature Sounds). With most of the Wu present, along with some newcomers, the album attempts to rekindle the sounds of the past to no avail. Without any beats that rival his best work, The Problem is plagued by monotonous production and uninspired performances.
While Mathematics has proved his worth as a producer in the past, his work on The Problem fails to reflect his true ability. With no real variety in sounds, each beat follows a similar pattern with its thin layering. This is seen on "Rush" featuring Method Man & Gza, "John 3:16" featuring Method Man & P.I. and "Strawberries & Cream" featuring Allah Real, Inspectah Deck, Rza & Ghostface. All of these songs include a simplistic arrangement of keys and inept drums. In addition, the various rookie emcees cluttered throughout the album hurt its cause as well. With Mathematics' overbearing horns blaring, Allah Real, Eyeslow, Angie Nell & Bald Head falter with a colorless story on "Tommy." The contrived playa tales by Bald Head on "Coach Talk" is another filler attempt, as the track's overused sample has been flipped better before.
To be fair, Mathematics does sprinkle in a few vintage beats. Hot Flames' "Can I Rise" recaptures the gritty essence Math is known for with his plotting keys and vocal sample. Similarly, "Two Shots Of Henny" by Buddah, Angie Nell, Hot Flames, Eyeslow, P.I. & Allah Real and "Real Nillaz" by Ghostface, Buddah, Eyeslow & Raekwon also feature well-placed vocal samples.
Even though The Problem includes guest appearances from the entire Wu-Tang Clan, diehard fans will ultimately come away disappointed with Mathematics effort behind the boards. The production lacks the depth, creativity and layering that his previous work encompassed, and more than anything feels rushed. Hopefully, Mathematics will solve these "problems" and return to his vintage form in the future.