It's always been easy to jump on a bandwagon. But the Wu Tang Clan are who they are today just because they didn't, coming through with a style and a business model that was without question unprecedented.
It seems that since the multi platinum success of Wu Tang Forever that, as the respective solo careers of the clan members have developed over the years, it has become more and more difficult to get everyone together, not just in terms of having the time to record with each other, but also even on a conceptual or ideological level. That being said, if it is true Ghostface played a big part in the conception of The Saga Continues, his influence is clear to see with tracks such as the lead single ‘People Say’ and ‘Pearl Harbour’, tracks that feel more akin to the entirely analogue sound on the Ghostface project Twelve Reasons To Die.
This LP, entirely produced by Mathematics and overseen by Rza, was created in such a way so as to deliberately retain more of an old school ‘90s sound, from the choice of equipment used to the selection of samples and sounds. It has been noted that this LP should regarded as a record more similar to Legendary Weapons or Chamber Music than Enter the 36 Chambers or Forever.
There are many beats and samples that take you straight back into the old school Wu atmosphere such as the Ghost Dog-esque keys and rousing soul strings on ‘If Time Is Money’ and the tense energy as provided by the beat on ‘Fast and Furious’, something that Raekwon capitalises on effortlessly.
With only sparse appearances from some of the main members of the clan, the full absence of U God and of course the irreplaceable (RIP) Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the addition of the rawkus style of the funk doctor spock Redman and the feature from celebrated veteran (RIP) Sean Price are most welcome inclusions.
On ‘Why Why Why’ we are treated to a full Rza feature, where he comes through with some inspired bars filled with social commentary, his immense delivery as strong as it's always been. Method Man features largest on the LP, and with his own new solo material on the way he’s ready to show the haters he's still on his game, with strong verses on ‘G’ed Up’ and ‘Hood Goes Bang’, another track that features his Def Squad brother, Redman.
Clearly this album is not Enter The 36 Chambers or Forever. And while this Wu album cannot be regarded as a record that hits the mindblowing levels of those two seminal hip hop albums, it is still a quality record and, perhaps something more is at stake.
With the huge popularity of the contemporary rap style loosely based on the dirty South vibe which harps back to the heydays of 3-6 Mafia and Master P’s No Limit Records, it should be appreciated that artists such as the Wu keep younger hip hop fans in the conceptual loop. And that might just be what the Wu are doing with this album.
If you happen to be one of those people that pays attention to the industry, there are a host of artists such as Joey Bada$$, Earl Sweatshirt, Kendrick Lamar, and J Cole that stay true to the roots of hip hop, though they are for a large part overshadowed by the crunky commercial sizzurp soaked hip hop. If the age old saying that ‘Wu Tang is for the babies’ is true, the clan will always represent the style of rap and production that got them where they are today. If that was not the case, we would likely be criticising them for not doing so.
Very few Wu-Tang fans could even dream of being able to afford the one off record Once Upon A time In Shaolin, which was snapped up for a paltry $2million by ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli. So until that is made available on general release, or the clan produce another project, we should be content with The Saga Continues. There is more than enough to be pleased with on the album.
At least the Wu are sticking to their guns.
After all, it could have been a mumble rap album.
You can buy The Saga Continues and all sorts of Wu accessorioes straight from the clan at 36chambers.com here.
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