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Various Artists

This pairing of several Wu-Tang Clan stars with a collection of underground hip-hop talent is a boon to both parties. The young rappers get to share the mic with the remnants of hip-hop's last true supergroup, while the RZA and company remind the kids of their prodigious '90s feats.

Although it comes with little hands-on involvement from the Riz, his production deputy Bronze Nazareth gives Think Differently a secondhand but still potent dose of the sped-up samples, swelling strings, and Shaolin soundbites that constitute the classic Wu sound. What Think Differently really makes you appreciate is the way the RZA kept a wildly diverse ten-man crew focused on a larger goal. With some two dozen guests — among them Aesop Rock, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, and J-Live — coherence simply isn't possible here, so the best way to enjoy this album is for its fantasy-league pairings. "Biochemical Equation," a lyrical duel between the Riz and MF Doom, lives up to the high expectations, but even better is the ominous matchup between two of hip-hop's most brilliant MIAs: the GZA and Ras Kass. It's hard not to long for the Wu's oft-delayed new LP while you listen to this disc, but being forced to think differently can be a good thing too.

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Dan Leroy

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