Most of today’s hip-hop artists grew up listening to Wu-Tang Clan, but how many grew up rapping with them? Hell Razah, for one. The Brooklyn-bred MC spent his teenage years under the Clan’s tutelage as a member of Wu offshoot Sunz of Man, sharpening his lyrical sword alongside older MCs like GZA, Ghostface, and Killah Priest during the Clan’s glorious 90s heyday. After three Sunz of Man albums and countless guest appearances and collaborations, Razah released his acclaimed debut The Renaissance in 2007, and Nature Sounds now presents his long-awaited follow-up, Heaven Razah.
Since releasing his first solo mixtape in 2001, Hell Razah has become one of the most prolific artists in hip-hop’s underground. He’s released collaborative albums with Wu-Tang producer 4th Disciple and Babygrande Records production team Blue Sky Black Death, and has been an active member of a remarkable number of groups, most notably the underground supergroup Black Market Militia (along with Killah Priest, Tragedy Khadafi, and Timbo King), the Brooklyn-repping duo T.H.U.G. Angelz (along with Shabazz The Disciple), and various incarnations of Sunz of Man.
While Razah enjoys collaborating with his peers, he held off on guest spots for Heaven Razah, with only R.A. The Rugged Man, Timbo, and Shabazz making appearances. “I wanted to show that I can hold my own,” he explains. “To me, features look like mixtapes. If you go back and look at classic albums like Illmatic, there weren’t a lot of features.” Crafting a classic album by oneself is no easy task, but Razah was up to the challenge. “I participated with everything on this album. I did a lot of the co-production, wrote all the hooks, wrote the whole album, executive produced it, A&Red it, so I’ve been really hands-on. It made me work harder.”
The end result is Razah’s most mature work to date. “I’m a husband now, I’m a father now,” he explains. “You can tell I’ve been doing a lot of studying, reading a lot of books. I’ve got a lot going on in my brain.” He delves into deep spiritual knowledge on “Book Of Heaven Razah,” tells a two-part story on the Ayatollah-produced “Kids In The Street,” and spits razor-sharp lines over a smooth jazz loop on “Return Of The Renaissance.” Blending spirituality and street poetry, Heaven Razah explores the balance between Heaven on Hell, pain and joy, Earth and the afterlife. “It reflects a lot of pain that I went through. That’s why it took so long to record, because I was going through a lot. There’s a lot of soul in this album.” With the album finally finished, Razah is ready to deliver a classic. “Hell Razah means I raise the people from Hell. With this album, I’m going to bring them to Heaven.”