May 26, 2009

Cilvaringz - I (June 12, 2007)

A lot of folks may interpret Tarik Azzogaurh's story as a tale of a stalker who followed his dreams. Tarik, who is of Morroccan descent, by way of the Netherlands, essentially wore down Wu-Tang Clan ringleader The Rza with letters, demo tapes, and unexpected appearances at the Clan's offices in New York. The man even tracked down some of Rza's relatives in an effort to get his point across. But somehow, this story doesn't end with an arrest and charges being filed: instead, we get to read Max's write-up for Cilvaringz's debut album, I, an album which allegedly took the man ten years to create (I'm not personally buying that, but I provide that information in the interest of thoroughness).

Cilvaringz, as Tarik prefers to go by, was the first European artist to be invited into the Wu-affiliate fold, and according to some sites, he has also been positioned as the tenth member of the Clan. (Which explains why Redman keeps referring to himself as the "eleventh".) It's still unknown exactly what the man's status within the crew is, but here's what I got: Cilvaringz is a rapper-slash-producer, one that has shown some talent with his instrumental disc The Mental Chambers, which I'm sure most Wu stans already have a copy of. He has a few friends outside the United States who are now also Wu-affiliated, but this write-up isn't about them. Like most Wu stans, Cilva longed for the days when a Wu-Tang Clan album sounded grimy, gritty, and unlike anything you would ever hear on the radio. A purist at heart, he elected to use the older nicknames of some of his guests on I. The reason Max isn't sure about the man's place in the Wu world order is because he doesn't appear anywhere on 8 Diagrams.

The Rza was impressed enough by the man's work, his work ethic, his lyrical content (informed by his religious beliefs, in addition to the usual "Wu-Tang Clan ain't nuthin' to fuck with" schtick) and his persistence, and as such, Cilvaringz was awarded with a record deal. Cilva immediately closed the studio to anybody that wasn't a Wu-Element in some fashion, attempting to win some fan love by taking it back to the basics. Although I failed to move many units in the United States (possibly for a very big reason, which I will get to below), Cilvaringz has won the trust and loyalty of many Wu followers, and is hard at work recording his sophomore effort.

So, did everyone look past I for a reason, or is it a diamond in the rough?

Of course Cilvaringz would begin his solo debut album with a sample from a kung-fu flick. All of the references to the Abbott (a nickname The Rza adopted for himself a long time ago) only add to my theory that Cilva is/was a crazed Wu stalker that snuck into the Wu Mansion and hid in a closet for days without food or water while masturbating furiously to Wu-Tang Clan liner notes, though.

Don't get too excited: The Rza only shouts some ad-libs in the middle of the track, but the album credits (and yes, that's how he is credited) lead you to believe that he spits a verse, so they served their purpose. Cilva's flow comes off as a combination of Contribution X and RA The Rugged Man, and he drops more names on here than The Game, but the song does actually sound like the type of thing Wu-Tang stans like myself have been missing, so I have to say: nice work.

Cool title, but the credits are misleading (this is a recurring theme, by the way). Ghostface and The Rza don't rhyme on here: they seem to have been inserted after the tail was pinned on this donkey. Cilva and Raekwon are the only two on here that spit verses, and Rae sounds surprisingly alert, decimating the verbal attempts of his host: maybe those clinical sleep trials he had been attending have produced decent results (at least, until he recorded his verse for Blackout! 2). Sadly, this track as a whole just doesn't sound very good. Oh well.

You see, it's easy to tell that Cilvaringz is a Wu-Tang stan (albeit one who managed to get a record deal) because he begins his first verse by repeating some older Method Man lyrics, bending them to his will. The title is too long for its own good (it's approaching Fallout Boy-levels of ridiculousness), but the song itself isn't bad: some of it is awfully sweet. Take note of the fact that it isn't listed below under “Best Tracks”, though.

You're motherfucking right I'm censoring the title of this track, also known as “the main reason I wasn't really marketed in the United States”; I'm not looking for any issues with Homeland Security. Cilva oversimplifies the issue a bit, but it is very interesting to hear a completely different point of view, one which most of the anti-war protestors would have adopted, had they listened to this spoken-word track first. Listen at your own risk: America is still a free country, after all. By the way, Cilvaringz does not actually condone the title threat, which is why he put it between quotation marks. Feel better?

An interesting take on what used to be a Wu solo album prerequisite: the posse cut. (There are too many projects these days on which the Wu-Tang Clan seems to have forgotten that the fans they have left look forward to collaborations like this.) Method Man only drops the intro, and Masta Killa's verse treads that fine line between preachy and annoying (as most of his verses tend to do, admittedly), but as a whole, this song isn't bad. Killah Priest, especially, turns in the best performance I've heard from him in a long while. (Scientific) Shabazz the Disciple only briefly appears, but it's still pretty cool to hear Method Man say his name, essentially acknowledging the man's existence. Bobby Digital is, well, you've heard Birth of A Prince already. (Or maybe you haven't.) The song is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long, though.

Hearing this a little more than four months removed from the Bush administration, I'm shocked, appalled, and embarrassed that a man that inarticulate was once the leader of the free world. However, I'm supposed to talk about the song, so let me do that. Cilva's verse is decent (I never said the dude was without skill behind the mic), and the Gza (who should have been credited as only "The Genius", in order to fit in with the rest of Cilva's theme) sounds as good as always, but they both perform over different beats: I'm still not fully convinced that the men ever shared studio time, or that Gza/Genius is even aware of his inadvertent contribution to I. Otherwise, the track is alright, I suppose.

Cilva acknowledges the fact that he seems to say The Rza's name in all of his songs, all while explaining to the Wu stans exactly how he (either officially or unofficially, it's hard to tell with the Clan, as they don't hold press conferences or anything) became the tenth member of the Wu-Tang Clan. The Bronze Nazareth beat is pretty engaging, except for the beatbox break near the middle, and having The Rza speak at the very end smacks of narcissism, but otherwise, this isn't bad.

This song is only two and a half minutes long, so there is no possible way it can include every single member of Killarmy, but that's how the song is credited, so whatever. Cilva's beat is pulsating in a “you would expect it to be used for a throwaway Ghostface Killah song” kind of way, and Killa Sin, Shogun Assassin, and Beretta 9 compensate for the environmental switchup by ripping the shit out of it. Not bad at all.

This is just a skit, and it's unnecessary, as most hip hop skits tend to be.

Sounds decent enough, but I found my mind wandering at an alarming pace during Cilva's quasi-religious babble over some True Master production that should have hit harder.

Refer to the comments from the other similarly-titled skit.

A skit right after a skit? What the fuck? I'm not sure what Cilva was trying to prove by including alleged voicemails from the likes of Pharrell and Ne-Yo, but whatever it was, it ddn't take.

Cilva's version of “Meth Vs. Chef” fails in its attempt to bring listeners a compelling Wu-sounding treat, mainly because his beat is too busy to follow coherently. Lyrically, though, Cilva and Killa Sin (who's always been the best rapper out of Killarmy and really deserves to be upgraded to a better group) put in work (Cilvaringz even manages to take a shot at Remedy, the resident Jewish member of the Wu-Tang Clan's extended family, which is weird, considering that the two connected for a song previously; I'm sure there's more to that beef, but I don't care enough to look it up). The inclusion of Blue Raspberry's vocals seem to be more about evoking nostalgia than anything else, though, since she sounds awful on here.

15. THE SAGA...
Lyrically, Cilva is all over the map, hitting upon topics such as the importance of bling, how rap music sucks (save for a handful of artists that he names), and how he discovered the Wu to begin with, all while making damn sure he mentions The Rza's name yet again. His beat is rather interesting, though, so the package works as a whole.

I love early Michael Jackson as much as the next guy (Thriller is the shit, and I still love “Smooth Criminal” from Bad, even though it constantly reminds me of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker, the movie with the giant statue/robot thing of himself at the end), but this is still a questionable subject to write a rap song about (essentially defending an “alleged” child molester: what's next, an homage to “alleged” child rapist R. Kelly?), especially if you're part of the Wu-Tang extended family – and you definitely should not have wasted a Rza beat on this. I'll never listen to this shit again (although the man makes some fair points about MTV, a station he will never see any play on), and you'll probably skip this one too, so we'll move on.

Features another potshot aimed at Remedy, alongside insults thrown at Britney Spears, George W. Bush, Madonna, Whitney Houston, and, curiously, Robert DeNiro. This is exactly the type of song that takes Cilvaringz from the Wu forefront and places him into the bargain bin alongside all of Dom Pachino's solo efforts, a few of the Hell Razah projects, and Bronze Nazareth's album.

Meh. (Yeah, I said meh. It's just music, Cilva: if you're trying to get your message across, it would help if the undelrying 4th Disciple-produced music was actually good.)


The hook (Blue Raspberry again) is completely useless, but otherwise, this long-promised track (which has come up off and on ever since Cilvaringz was first introduced on Wu-Tang Clan fan sites) lives up to its high expectations. This is actually a better Wu posse cut than “In The Name Of Allah” in terms of sheer energy level alone, even with all of the Wu benchwarmers on here. Even Killarmy's 9th Prince sounds pretty damn good, and that never happens.

Couldn't convince Method Man to spit a verse on I, huh? Having him appear on the outro is a cool consolation prize, I suppose. (I'll admit it would be cool to have Meth on my album outro, if I were an actual rapper) He's worked alongside waaaay too many commercial artists to say no to Cilvaringz, though: maybe the money wasn't right?

FINAL THOUGHTS: Cilvaringz's I tries its best to sound like a Wu-Tang Clan album of olde, but as the man clearly has something he wants to say, it almost immediately veers off into B-Team territory. The disc is packed full of every thought Cilvaringz seems to have ever had on any subject ever, and as a result, runs too long. The most successful tracks recall why I became a Wu stan to begin with, but when stretched over twenty-one tracks, Cilvaringz and his number one fan schtick becomes old. Production-wise, I is mostly impressive, and the guests elevate each song they appear on (except for the bullshit cameos by Rza, Meth, and Ghost), but there's a good reason why I will never take off in the States.

BUY OR BURN? This album is for hardcore Wu stans only. If that describes you, you probably already burned a copy of this one anyway, but you should probably hunt down a physical copy. Cilvaringz gets too preachy for his britches often, not unlike Killah Priest on his many projects, but he has better production behind him. If you're not a Wu-Tang Clan fan, then I hope you enjoyed the writing, since you won't be picking this one up anyway. We'll see you next time.

BEST TRACKS: “Valentine Day Massacre”; “Wu-Tang Martial Expert”; “In The Name Of Allah”; “The Saga...”; “Blazing Saddles”




  1. I know this is groupe shit but I WAS exactly thinking of this dude today. This is benal, but whatever- thanks for your 1/30

  2. One of my favourite wu fam releases of the new millenium ! I loved everything on it except for the skits halfway which are indeed useless.
    The Remedy beef is about the song " A Muslim and a Jew" that was supposed to be on Cilvaringz ' album but Remedy put it on his "Code Red" album instead without asking Cilvaringz , Max.

  3. Redman calls himself #11 because Capadonna assumes the role of #10. C'mon, now... :D

  4. I always thought cappadonna was the 10th member of wu-tang, which is why redman was the 11th...anyway nice write up

  5. i always thought cappa was considered the tenth member of wu-tang (whether he deserves that honor its debatable, but this guy definantly doesn't)

  6. nice album ... I really miss that old wu tang sound...

  7. No, I refuse to acknowledge a part-time gypsy cab driver as the tenth member of the Wu. And seriously, no comments about the ridiculous video at the end?

    Thanks for reading!

  8. The Moonwalker video game must have been the arcade version. The Sega Genesis version of Moonwalker was much cooler.

  9. AnonymousMay 27, 2009

    Cappadonna has ALWAYS been known as the 10th member of Wu. I'm surprised at you, Max. And you call yourself a Wu-Tang Stan.

  10. Just because I'm a Wu-Tang stan doesn't mean thatI'm forced to accept certain things. In factm it makes me even more obsessive when I outright question some facts. I'm still having trouble believing that U-God is an official member of the Clan, as well. And you'll notice that U-God isn't on the Cilvaringz album. Hmmm... (Neither is Inspectah Deck, but I'm actively trying to spark up a conspiracy theory here.)

  11. Nothing could be more ridiculous than the lyrics to Forever Michael, not even that video clip.

    Also Brothers Ain't Brothers was about certain Wu members not accepting him into the clan (Deck being the main opponent apparently - he said it in an interview). Think it may have been something to do with him being the wrong kind of African.

  12. Let's focus on Cilvas' album: I is a nice effort. Cilvas' english is also alright (did you notice that?).

    Plus: he censored "Death to America" all by his self, because as you know, the track was originaly titled "Fuck America" and sounded better than the version printed on here (on I).

    Anyway, Cilva isn't a Wu-member at all. He considers his self a Killa Bee and that's all.

  13. protomanMay 27, 2009

    i'm shocked and appalled that you would say the clearly inferior genesis version of moonwalker is better than the arcade version

  14. Nice review, but sadly, I don't agree. Wu-Tang Martial Expert lacks something, Weeping Tiger is fucking awesome, Sheherezad(...) is overproduced, I hate first beat on Jewels, Shogun Assasson on Blazing Saddles is wack, and while Valentine's Day Massacre caught my ears immidiately, Moongod Allah drums sound the same and In The Name Of Allah is epic.

    U-God and Deck aren't here because, apparently, they never replied to him, and by the time of album's release Cilva haven't even met Deck (Now, there was some talking around Wu-Tang Corp that Charlie Horse smacked Tarik's ass one day)

    I like this album, so much that I wanted to write a (cough) Reader Review about it. It's dope in the terms of Wu-affiliate, mostly production.

  15. AnonymousMay 29, 2009

    Im appalled that you even consider this guy wu-tang-clan worthy, Max, and what the fuck has RZA been smoking that he's so impressed by him? Besides his music - that absolutely SUCKS for the most part, Cilva is the actual manager of Salah Edin and that does it for me. I hope U-god kills this guy by chessgaming him to death, and then receives absolutely no media coverage so Cilva will be silently forgotten, and Salah Edin with him.

    Im sorry for the negativety on here, I really like all of your reviews this month, and I will keep following this blog as close as I can! Keep up the good work! Greetings from the Netherlands!

  16. Ringz here, thanks for the write up. Quite critical, but reflecting back on it two years later I see your point actually. Quite right about a variety of stuff. But hey, you write and work in the moment. As for Meth, do have a verse, cant use it, Def Jam was bugging about the America song of course. Even have 2 ODB verses, but Def Jam again sadly. Good read!

  17. Thanks for your feedback!

  18. Ringz here (again). Thanks for thanking if you'll excuse me I've got to get back to my biting.

  19. God bless you Inspectah Deck for refusing to accept “Ringz” as a Clansman. And for being dope.

  20. AnonymousJune 14, 2010

    Cappadonna is #10...Ringz will NEVER be considered a full member. Plus, Inspectah Deck knocked him out

  21. Was it really Cilva a few posts above ?

  22. you suck nigga and your stupid article

  23. You have no love for hip-hop, this man made his dreams come true. What have you accomplished? NOTHING!

  24. AnonymousJune 12, 2013

    La The Darkman is the 12th...I like cilvaringz. One of the most original lyricists in the Wu and hiphop. I guess he stands as the 13th member then