The Wild’s answer is a definitive yes. Eschewing the bloated roster of features from his last LP (2015’s Fly International Luxurious Art) for just a few collaborators, The Wild is a 16-course meal representative of the Chef’s experience and legacy. Raekwon has always felt like the spiritual progeny of Slick Rick—an expert at vividly painted story raps—though his rhymes are perhaps laced with more vitriol.
Throughout The Wild, amid the casual braggadocio and nimble wordplay, Rae is often in a reflective mood, considering past mistakes and the crazy risks that young hoods take in the streets.
The luxurious Rick Ross aesthetic Rae tried on for F.I.L.A. and his Unexpected Victory mixtape seemed to suit him poorly; if The Wild feels like a return to form, it’s because he’s embraced the way his growl adds grit to ’70s soul-sampling productions.