The Wu-Tang Clan. What can be said now about the iconic New York hip hop outfit that hasn’t been said already? From their iconic first 2 albums Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) & Wu-Tang Forever to the countless classic solo debuts like Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… & Supreme Clientele, they’ve always been rightfully regarded as the greatest hip hop outfit of all-time. Last time we heard from them collectively in an album capacity was in 2014 with A Better Tomorrow & with a SHOWTIME documentary being recently released, they’re coming together with the help of Nas’ Mass Appeal Records to deliver the soundtrack for it.
The soundtrack kicks off with “On That Shit Again”, where Ghostface Killah & RZA sound vengeful over a piano & some drums. The next song “Seen a Lot of Things” with Ghost & Raekwon pretty much speaks for itself over a prominent electric guitar & after the “Project Kids” skit, we go into the RZA solo cut “Do the Same as My Brother Do”. Where the Abbott kicks some knowledge over a punchy yet orchestral beat. After the “Yo is you Cheo?” skit & before the “1 Rhyme” outro, the final song of the EP is the title track. Where RZA gets with Cappadonna & Masta Killa boast over some prominent drums.
As much as I loved the documentary, this was a decent soundtrack. Most of the performances are fantastic don’t get me wrong, but it sounds like the Clan could’ve fully fleshed it out.
When it seemed like 2014’s A Better Tomorrow would be the almighty Wu-Tang Clan’s final group album, they’re now returning with their 7th official full-length album (excluding the single-copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin) & they have enlisted Wu-Elements member Mathematics to produce it in it’s entirety. After a 91 second instrumental intro with a spoken word sample & then an actual spoken monologue from the Clan’s de facto leader RZA, we are then treated to the album’s first song “Lesson Learn’d”. Here, Inspectah Deck teams up with Redman to remind you that they never play around over a hard hitting boom bap instrumental & I also didn’t mind Deck’s jab at the Once Upon a Time in Shaolin purchaser Martin Shkreli near the end of his verse, given that he’s an evil culture vulture. The track “Fast & Furious” is pretty much Raekwon & Hue Hef getting mafioso over a menacing instrumental & while Hue was just ok, Rae definitely made up for it. After a short instrumental interlude that takes it back the group’s early days with a Kung Fu sample, we are then lead into the next song If Time’s Money (Fly Navigation). It’s pretty much a Method Man solo cut, but he makes up for his last album The Meth Lab by hopping on an instrumental you can really kick back to & spitting a long yet charismatic verse.
The track “Frozen” may have a lazy hook as it recycles a couple Rae & Ghostface Killah lines from “4 Horsemen”, but the verses from Meth about pushing the limit as well as the vivid storytelling from Killah Priest & the lethally angry Chris Rivers make up for it some keys along with a bass guitar & a regular guitar. After a 45 second skit with a soulful instrumental in the background, we then get into the next song “Pearl Harbor”. Here, the late Sean Price gets with Meth & RZA to confrontationally spit bars like being the greatest & telling your crew to wear shorts with an image of you on it over some gritty horns as well as some keys & an organ. I also love how RZA brings back his Bobby Digital alter ego during his verse & the one line he makes midway through his part about how he can turn Lady Gaga heterosexual again was pretty hilarious. The track “People Say” sees Deck, Meth, Rae & Masta Killa linking back up with Redman alongside to get braggadocious over a very soulful boom bap beat. “Family” is a 1 minute skit containing a sample of a mother talking about family (hence the title) & the next song “Why Why Why” is basically a conscious RZA solo cut over some funky bass & some decently sung vocals from Swnkah.
The track “G’d Up” is basically Meth & R-Mean talking about being just that & the beat is pretty luscious, but the Mzee Jones hook sounds like a cut-rate T-Pain. The song “If What You Say Is True” sees Cappadonna along with GZA & Masta Killa getting with Streetlife to spit some abrasive battle rhymes over some sinister horns. The “skit” Saga is less of a skit & more of RZA spitting about haters not wanting the Clan grow & even a cool reference to the Flint water crisis over some beautiful strings. The 91 second “Hood Go Bang!” has a decent Redman hook, but then lone verse that Method Man delivers nearly has the same rhyme scheme throughout that it’s crazy. The final song in the track listing is “My Only One”, where Cappa along with The Abbott & Tony Starks rap about their boos over a grimy instrumental. The next 2 tracks are just a 2 minute interlude with a funky instrumental & long spoken word sample & then a 45 second monologued outro from the RZA over the same instrumental as the one in the intro.
At the end of the day, this was a lot more consistent than the last few group albums. It feels more like a compilation considering the fact that there’s only 1 or 2 group members on a number of tracks & U-God not being on it at all, but everyone including almost all the features go & Mathematics probably made it the Clan’s most well produced album since The W
It’s been 6 long years in the making & just when it seems like it would never come out, Wu-Tang Clan member Masta Killa is finally releasing his long-awaited 4th full-length album. After a 41 second intro, we are treated to the album’s first song “Return of thee Masta Kill”. While the instrumental from Blahzay Blahzay producer/DJ PF Cuttin’ has this twangy guitar with some boom bap drums & I’m fine with the verses from both Masta Killa & fellow Wu member Cappadonna during the beginning & end respectively, bu Young Dudas’ was just average to me. The self-titled track is basically Jamel Irief romantically talking to his lady & the beautifully smooth 9th Wonder instrumental compliments the tone very well. The track “Therapy” with Method Man & Redman insightfully talks about music being therapeutic to them over a piano loop & some boom bap drums & while the song “OGs Told Me” has a great Cortex sample throughout provided by the producer Dame Grease, my biggest issue with it is that it feels more like a Boy Backs song given the fact that he dominates almost every verse except for Masta Killa’s that comes in halfway through. After a 98 second spoken word piece from the Clan’s de facto leader RZA over somber piano chords, we are then treated into the next track “Trouble”. Here, Jamel’s vividly rapping about how his criminal days began over a soulful instrumental. Then after a 1 minute skit, we are then treated to the next song “Down with Me”. For this joint, Masta Killa gets with the late Sean Price to brag about their rapping prowesses over a boom bap instrumental with some bass. The track “Tiger & the Mantice” with GZA & Inspectah Deck sounds like a vintage Wu banger from the Kung Fu film sample to the battle rap lyricism from all 3 MCs. The song “Real People” has a murderous tone lyrically & the guest verses from Prodigy & KXNG CROOKED were absolutely perfect. The track “Flex with Me” charismatically spits about the lavish life over some jungle-ish drums & the Chanel Sosa hook is pretty catchy as well. The song “Calculated” has this wailing down-tuned synthesizer throughout & despite Jamel’s verse at the end sounding ambitious, I wasn’t feeling the 2 verses from Ra Stacks & Knick Gunz that precede it all that much. Also, the hook sounds like the type of hook I’d hear on the radio. Before we get a 2 minute outro to close out the album, we get 2 last songs with “Noodles, Pts. 1 & 2”. Both of these songs should’ve been combined into 1 entire track rather than being split in 2 parts, I do like the orchestral mafioso vibe of the first half along with the seductive vibe of the other half. Personally, I think this album was worth the long wait. Sure some of the tracks have already been released for a period of time & I could’ve done without a couple of the features, but it’s well produced & Masta Killa continues to prove himself as one of the Clan’s most underrated swordsmen over time