So why is Mathematics’ The Problem on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
This is one of those albums where I can ask someone:
- Are you a fan of the Wu-Tang Clan?
- Are you a fan of underground hip hop?
And if the answer to both question is “yes,” then I have a rebuttal answer in answer to your answer, and that would be The Problem, by Mathematics.
If The Problem sounds like a Wu-Tang Clan album, there are lots of reasons for that. Mathematics (the stage name of Ronald Maurice Bean) is part of the larger Wu-Tang “collective,” was tight with GZA from the pre-Wu days, and learned to produce at the altar of the great RZA himself.
And then further, Wu-Tang personnel are on the mic throughout the album (among a bevy of others), always to good effect.
And indeed, it’s the RZA-like production that’s one of my favorite things about The Problem. For example, the bombastic, kind of Star Wars-y and definitely cinematic feel of “Can I Rise” (credited to Mathematics and Hot Flamez) sounds simply fantastic. The lyrics are pretty raw (as they are throughout the album) but there’s a really nice “strive to the top before I die” vibe in play.
“Strawberries and Cream” (credited to RZA, Inspektah Deck, Ghostface Killah, and Allah Real in addition to Mathematics) is the most Beatles-y hip hop song this side of Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles: Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers. The lyrics are… uh, NSFW* as we would say these days.
* That’d be not safe for work. Not safe at home either if there are young ‘uns about.
“Two Shots of Henny” has a fun, thumping, disco hip hop vibe.
“Spotlite” might be the most “Wu-Tang-like” song on the album, which makes perfect sense as it’s Mathematics, Method Man, Cappadonna, U-God, and Inspektah Deck on this one. It’s also just great.
Some stats & info about Mathematics – The Problem
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rap, Hip Hop, East Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 3.5 out of 5 stars
- When was The Problem released? 2005
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #617 out of 1,000
Mathematics’ The Problem on Spotify
A lyrical snippet from Mathematics’ The Problem that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
Can I rise? And get to the laugh, through the cries. While I’m alive, the projects, the hood through my eyes.
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.