December 27th, 2012 1:03pm

A Glimpse Of The Ninja

Masta Killa “R U Listening”

Masta Killa’s membership in the Wu-Tang Clan has been a mixed blessing for him – yes, he’s a member of the greatest rap group of all time, and a lot of doors have opened because of that affiliation. But he wasn’t fully formed as a rapper in the group’s early days, and only reached full maturity when most casual listeners had tuned out, so his solo work is pretty much only heard by Wu diehards. (If that? I feel like a lot of major Wu fans don’t bother with him.) This is a shame, since he’s an excellent rapper who hasn’t stopped evolving, and I think if he was either a new emcee or a veteran without a huge amount of baggage like Killer Mike or Curren$y, he’d be primed to get a lot more attention. His latest album just came out earlier this month, and while it’s not breaking much ground, it’s firmly in his sweet spot – sad, soulful, grim. His vocals have become a lot more dynamic, stepping away from the nearly monotone inflections of his verses circa The W, and toward a more expressive style that’s closer to that of his mentor, The GZA.

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