But then you hear their albums and actually listen to their lyrics and find yourself wondering "how did a person with all this talent put out this terrible product?"
This is precisely what has maligned Raekwon for the better part of the past decade. Aside from a few bright spots as a featured guest on random songs, his career has been in the toilet since releasing one of the best Hiphop albums ever created.
He's been pressured into making a sequel to that album, and at one point was working with Dr. Dre to produce the album -- a move that many of us east-coasters found to be curious and a borderline desperate move that may very well tarnish the original album's legacy.
In fact he's been working on the Cuban Linx Part II for about four years, with no results. The whole thing is reminiscent of Dr. Dre's infamous "Detox" album, which was announced seven years ago but has yielded no music for public consumption.
Let all the hating on Raekwon cease! Raekwon is back!
So just when I had all but given up on Rae -- especially after hearing his recent foray into R&B -- a new track from AZ's new mixtape to be released in August surfaces featuring Rae and some guy named Charlie Rock.
My first thoughts were to ignore it but AZ is one of the best and most consistent rappers ever, and since I enjoyed his last album so much I figured it wouldn't hurt to check this track out.
I'm glad I followed my instincts.
After a crazy 16 from AZ and a forgettable verse from Charlie Rock, Rae brings it home with his unmatchable flair and ease on the mic.
Rae's recent renaissance actually started a couple of months ago when OutKast's Big Boi leaked a single from his upcoming solo album. The song featured Andre 3000 and Raekwon, both in rare form with excellent verses.
But I thought nothing of it since Andre is routinely great and Rae is reliably unreliable. But with the release of AZ's song I'm hoping the real Rae we all know and love is back for good.
His verse -- rapped in classic Wu-Tang slang and style -- from the song follows (as best I could interpret it...), as well as a link to the AZ song after that.
"Put on ya thinking caps,
Sold the dro off the bat.
I gotta get high
The Enzo's swole and it's fly.
We hold paper, player
The feather in my hat is plush
If it falls, I gotta shoot down ya medals.
Drunk at the Gucci outlet
Put it ya mouth, b*tch, yum.
You know the chasers and the baseheads
Those my friends
I had to sell when the case fell to pay my rent.
They said all them n*ggas in the crib cook
Bag up blocks of coke
Go to jail and listen to Kim.
That slow motion sh*t
What? We crooks,
Catch us on the block with Cazals and Tims.
From my mans, Ray Blends,
Call him Rayful Eds.
Stick a church man, burn him and skate on rims.
We the 90s,
N*gga, rewind these lime weeds,
My Guyanese mossies smoke buds and cleanse
The stocks is in.
Catch me on the block cockfighting with hens."
The Secret feat. Charlie Rock & Raekwon - AZ & DJ Absolut