Wu-Tang Clan

A constant reminder of my wife's maiden name, Brenda Muthafuckin-Ruckus
*special introductory paragraph!
*Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
*Wu-Tang Forever
*The W
*Iron Flag
*8 Diagrams

Wu-Tang Clan is a NYC rappity hip-hop band with nine different "MC"s (or "singers"). I know what you're thinking: "Hay Mark how am I supposed to tell all these voices apart when I can't even tell my shoes apart come on it's hard they look so similar." Well, that's why I'm here to save the day with the nifty new Mark(TM) Prindle(R) Wu-Tang Clan Voice(TM) Teller-Aparter(R) Guide(TMR) (or MPW-TCVT-AG):

- Gary "GZA" "The Genius" Grice: Low, cool but tough voice. Reminds me a little of Ice Cube. Sounds like he'd kick your ass. See "Clan In Da Front" (not the first minute though; that's RZA)

- Robert "RZA" "The RZArecta" "Prince Rakeem" "Bobby Digital" Diggs: High but kinda rough voice, generally shouting excitedly. Sounds like he'd slice you ear to ear, then slice your ears as well. See first minute of "Clan In Da Front."

- Russell Tyrone "Ol' Dirty Bastard" Jones: Low dopey voice, often wiggly, gruff, spitty and weird. Sounds like he'd have a seizure at your party. See.... never mind, you can't mistake 'ODB' for anybody else.

- Clifford "Method Man" Smith: Low voice, relaxed, stoned and cotton-mouthed, but an excellent rapper. Sounds like he'd free-style for you, then get doped up and rob you at gunpoint. See, and this may shock you but... that's him rapping in "Method Man."

- Corey "Raekwon The Chef" Woods: Mid-range voice, raw and pissed-off. Sounds like he'd rip your throat out with his teeth. See the first verse of "Wu Tang: 7th Chamber."

- Dennis "Ghostface Killah" Coles: High but smooth voice, but still clearly a product of Tha Streets. Sounds like he'd play basketball and then punch you if you beat him. See the first verse of "Bring Da Ruckus" (after RZA growls out the chorus).

- Jason "Inspectah Deck" Hunter: High but smooth voice, a bit less maniacal than the others. Could even be mistaken for LL Cool J or another 'nice' rapper like that. Sounds like he'd be in one of your classes at the University.

- Lamont Jody "U-God" Hawkins: Low and gravelly as all hell! Sounds like he'd bite you in the knee. See the first verse of "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'."

- Elgin "Masta Killa" Turner: Mid-range voice. Enunciates every syllable. Is black. (?) Sounds like he doesn't appear much on the first album. See the last verse of "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'."

Glad I could help! And here's hoping their voices didn't change after the first album, because I've no intention of designing a Mark(TM) Prindle(R) Wu-Tang Clan Voice(TM) Teller-Aparter(R) Guide(TMR) (or MPW-TCVT-AG) 2.0.

* Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) - Loud 1993 *
Rating = 10

Okay, let's make first things clear. I'm not "Jim Rap" or "Bill Hip-Hop" or "Steve Breakdance Music," so I can't pontificate on the worthiness or unworthiness of a rapper's skills OH EXCUSE ME I MEAN "SKILLZ".

Actually I mean "grillz"; it's really hard for me to tell who has really nice braces and who just shoved a paper clip in their mouth (or mine, if you're referring to my crafty orthodontist of nine years). My point is that rap is basically some guy talking to you in rhythm over a beat and some samples. I don't mean to sound caustic here, but BIG FUCKING DEAL. YOU WRITE DOWN A BUNCH OF BOASTFUL BULLSHIT THAT RHYMES, AND THEN READ IT INTO A MIC. WOW I'M SO FUCKING IMPRESSED WITH YOU.

Actually in retrospect, I suppose I did mean to sound caustic there. But let's cut to the chase: what makes a good hip-hop album? For me personally, it requires (a) an interesting voice on the mic, (b) intriguing stories of violence, sorrow or humor, and (c) catchy background loops/samples/music/what-have-you. And in these qualities, the debut Wu-Tang Clan comes through in spa... err.... in A LOT.

Like the classic works of Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys, Enter The 36 Chambers is one of those rare hip-hop albums that seem to be more popular among white people - more specifically, white rock fans - than among their (presumably) African-American target audience. Look at the local evidence: it was voted the 12th greatest album of all time in the MarkPrindle.com 2008 reader survey -- and I only have one black reader! (Hi Aaron!)

So what is going on here? Why the 'one love' for the Wu? Having never been a white rock fan (I'm a Chinese bluegrass enthusiast), I can only guess. But my assuption is that white rock fans enjoy the Clan's hilariously violent rhymes and skits, plethora of interesting (and oft-crazed) voices, catchy little piano riffs, hard crispy beats and sundry martial arts movie samples, whereas African-American hip-hop fans perhaps prefer albums that don't include the lyric, "What's that in your pants? Aww, human feces!" Hey look, I'm just surmising here. Can't a fellow give it the old college try?

Let's look at some rhymes now, so you can see what I'm talking about:

"I get into shit, I let it out like diarrhea/Got burnt once, but that was only gonorrhea"

"WU!/Is comin THROUGH!/At a theatre near YOU!/And get funk like a SHOE!/What?!"

"The Wu is comin thru, the outcome is critical/Fuckin with my style, is sort of like a Miracle/on 34th Street, in the Square of Herald/I gamed Ella, the bitch caught a Fitz like Gerald --/-- ine Ferraro, who's full of sorrow/Cuz the hoe didn't win but the sun will still come out tomorrow"

"The life you save may be your motherfuckin' own/I'll hang your ass with this microphone!"

"Throw your shitty drawers in the hamper/Next time come strapped with a fuckin Pamper"

"So if you wanna come sweatin', stressin', contestin'/You'll catch a sharp sword to the midsection/Don't talk the talk, if you can't walk the walk/Phony niggaz are outlined in chalk!"

"Yo I'm super I'll make a bitch squirm/For my.... Super Sperm!/Check it, I give it to ya raw butt naked/I smell sess; pass the Method"

"First things first: man, you're fuckin' with the worst/I'll be stickin' pins in your head like a fuckin' nurse!"

"For crying out loud, my style is wild so book me/Not long is how long that this rhyme took me"

"Ten times ten men committing mad sin/Turn the other cheek and I'll break your fuckin' chin!"

"The Wu is too slammin' for these Cold Killin' labels/Some ain't had hits since I seen Aunt Mabel"

"Aw yeah, he ran, but he didn't get far/Cause I dropped him, heh heh heh heh heh HAR!"

As you can see, the Wu-Tang Clan indeed write witty lyrics that rhyme. In addition, the record never gets boring because the voices just keep CHANGING! Every song is filled with like a jillion different gravelly, angry rappers who step on each others' toes, provide background chatter for street scenes, and replace each other as aggressive lead instrument every 15 seconds. Producer RZA creates an endlessly listenable mix as well, combining original piano riffs, movie samples, bass loops, sound effects, strong driving beats, and dark humor interludes ("Yeah I'll fuckin' lay your nuts on a fuckin' dresser, just your nuts layin' on a fuckin' dresser -- And bang them shits with a spiked fuckin bat!"). The record also benefits from a raw, unpolished production sound (supposedly due to poor recording equipment) that would be long gone by the time they recorded even their second release.

Enter The 36 Chambers is the sound of nine hungry, aggressive young men with tremendous energy, wit and (in many cases) criminal backgrounds setting out to demonstrate their significant lyrical and verbal skills to the world. And that's probably why it's so much better than anything else in their catalog. After this release, most of the members released solo albums, the Wu-Tang collective launched its own clothing line, and by the time they came back together for the sophomore group release, they were basically wealthy and comfortable. There's no shame in that, obviously, but my point is that Enter The 36 Chambers was a record that could only be made once.

And so it was.

Two other quick thoughts:

In my pre-review research, I've run across several different press comments to the effect that this album wasn't considered a classic at first and that it received mixed reviews upon its release. This is not at all how I remember it. I was DJ'ing for UNC-Chapel Hill's WXYC-FM at the time of its release, and everybody I knew went NUTS over it. I'm not saying this like "Oh, we were so cool." I'm saying it like, "Yes it was considered a classic at first, except among major media like Rolling Stone who give out gold stars based solely on the pre-established reputation of an artist."

Because I'm not at heart a major-league hip-hop fan, I didn't buy this CD until many, many years later. However, I owned and loved the "C.R.E.A.M." cassingle at the time, so imagine my glee upon visiting a Washington, D.C. Waffle House and seeing a black man enter with his white girlfriend who was wearing a "C.R.E.A.M." t-shirt! I kept peeking glances at their table during the meal, trying to catch an eye so I could give the ol' 'Thumbs Up' to the cool Wu-Tang Clan t-shirt. Unfortunately, when I did catch his eye, I gave him an inconclusive nod that (most likely) led him to believe I didn't approve of his "Down With The Swirl" girlfriend choice. So imagine my lack of glee upon having him glare back at me and announce, "What the fuck is THAT supposed to mean?" A more confident man would have answered, "Your girlfriend is wearing a Wu-Tang Clan shirt! I love that 'C.R.E.A.M.' song!" Alas, I was a cowardly 20-year-old skinnyfellow with long hair and the sides of his head shaved like Mike Patton, and could only look away nervously as my brother warned, "Mark! We're in Washington, D.C.! You can get KILLED for staring at somebody like that!"

Then I moved to NYC and stared at everybody til they killed me. That's right - I'm Mark The Record Reviewin' Corpse! Get 'em while you can because the worms are chewing pretty hard on my typin' hands!

Reader Comments

yes, 36 chambers is better than both closer and in an aeroplane over the sea

you've been on something of a roll

Wu-Tang's first record is classic. When rating hip hop groups, if you include solo records (GZA, Method Man, Raekwon's, ODB, Inspectah Deck's debut albums, and almost EVERY Ghostface Killah record), they are undoubtedly the greatest hip hop group of all time.

This is the best hip hop record ever, the most extreme version possible of earlier hip hop with the "Who is the best MC" one-ups-man-ship...and they stretch it out near-perfectly for 55 minutes (could do without 'Tearz' but whatever).

Anyway, amazing record. Aeorplane over the Sea is tame whiny indie puny crap. And Closer is great, but just because it got more stars doesn't mean he's directly comparing the two albums, Malbork. Anyway, this IS much better than Closer. Well-done.

Yeah, I'd call it a 10 even though I have no fucking clue what the hell they're talking about in that long skit at the beginning of Protect Ya Kneck. Tell ya the truth, it's my favorite Wu jam, but I have that intro. Back when my tape deck was broken and before I won the lottery and bought an iPod, it was always extremely dangerous to cue that song up while driving because I 1) had to push fast forward on my discman to get through the dumb skit, not watching the road so as not to skip too much of the beginning of the actual song 2) was wearing headphones and 3) usually driving a little two-lane highway to work that also happened to have the highest fatal accident rate in the state of Kansas. Needless to say, I'm a better man having thrown caution to the wind.

Also needless to say, my balls fell off and I now wear a frilly dress because I was once subjected to "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" (whoops, one ball) and also "Closer" (dear me, the other!!!).

(*19 minutes later*)


Turns out that song I was talking about is Track 4, "Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber." Just cuz they say "protect ya neck" doesn't mean that's what the song is called, I guess. And there's only one k in neck, according to Wu-Tang Clan.

I'm gonna go fire my entire copy editing department.

Yup 10. There isn't much left to say about this one. So instead of a real reader comment, I'm just going to quote more lyrics that I love from this album (besides the stuff Mark already quoted):

"I be tossin and flossin, my style is awesome/I'm causin more family feuds than Richard Dawson/And the survey said, 'Ya dead!'/Fatal flyin guillotine chops off ya fuckin head!"

"Now why try and test, the rebel INS/Blessed since the birth, I earth-slam your best/Cause I bake the cake, then take the cake/And eat it too, with my crew while we head state-to-state!"

"Yo, here I go, deep type flow/Jacques Cousteau could never get this low"

"I picked him up, then I held him by his head/His eyes shut, that's when I knew he was/...Aw MAN!"

"Illiterate type asshole/Songs going gold no doubt/and yo, watch a corny nigga fold"

"Yo, nigga respect mine or anger the tec-9/Ch-cha-POW! Move from the gate now"

"Weak MCs approach with slang that's dead/You might as well run into the wall and bang ya head"

"Niggas be gettin on my fuckin nerves/Rhymes they be kickin make me wanna kick they fuckin ass to the curb!"

And of course, the wonderfully nonsensical "I'm no joker! Play me as a joker/Be on you like a house on fire, smoke ya!"

amoy3r@gmail.com (Aaron, my only black reader)
I agree with all these reviews especially this one and 8 Diagrams. Thanks for the shoutout!!!

I also think the Wu connects with the white folk more because of the Kung Fu influences and samples and stuff, you don't hear that everyday in your Jay-Z records. The guys in the Wu are really weird.

36 Chambers is a classic, I hadn’t listened to any hip hop since PE’s Apocalypse 91, probably got this one a few years after its release. This album brought something so original and so raw I couldn’t get enough of it. The rest of their albums couldn’t get close to the greatness of this one but a few of their solo albums did. I’d recommend GZA’s Liquid Swords, Raekwon’s Only Built for Cuban Linx(minus the skits) and ODB’s Return to the 36 Chambers. Ghostface had some good songs on his first few albums but I think he made better songs than albums, maybe get his greatest hits.

I just don't get the love of Wu-Tang at all. I guess their actual rapping is okay, but everything is terrible. The music is too minimal and insanely boring. The production sounds like they borrowed LuMP's recording equipment from you - and I don't think it is a plus like you suggest. Finally, I *HATE* all those movie samples. 3/10

The most important hip-hop elements are me are good/interesting music and it is fun. Wu-Tang has neither.

The only good hip-hop I've ever found are:

1. PE - It Take Millions - everything else after that sounds like a rerun to me. Although the reverse racism on this album really irritates me. However, I'm apparently the only person on the planet who thinks "Cold Lampin" is a great song.
2. Beastie Boys
3. Kool Keith especially Black Elvis/Lost in Space, Dr. Octagonecologyst, and Dr. Doom. I think he is the best of all the hip-hop artists. I love his characters. I mean Dr. Octagon is an alien (from outer space), patient molesting, cross-dressing, and completely incompetent doctor.
4. Ultramagnetics MCs - Critical Beatdown
5. Cypress Hill - Cypress Hill - the bass lines is what makes this album.
6. Insane Clown Posse - The Amazing Jeckel Brothers - God, their other albums suck bad, I hate their core fan base, and can't stand clowns. But that album is awesome and has the best rock music of any rap album. ODB makes an appearance too.
7. Ron Artest "My World" - this is largely here because he is clearly insane which any sports fan knows. And what other married artist would include a song about cheating on the woman he was cheating on his wife with? And have another song where he trashes other players and the NBA commissioner? And "Workin the Pole" is a 100 on the unintentional comedy scale. And it's a load of fun.

one of the classics of hip hop and an all time favorite of mine, Wu tang were the most recognized of the "hard core" hip hop scene, providing an alternative to the smooth g funk styles of snoop dogg/dr dre/warren g, which were coming out of the west coast. the violence and mysogony take a back seat to clever, boastful lyrics, and a "pass the mic" feel

I think this was such a hit with rock fans because it has an "old school" vibe to it and that seems to be more accessible to fans of rock, particularly the louder kind, with slamming beats and shouted lyrics, as opposed to the mellowed out, weed affected, sex up your lady, smooth sounds coming out of LA, and subsequently new york later

there are a lot of overlooked hip hop albums to check out, I was fortunate enough to have my 35 year old brother's tape collection to go through and find some of those, some include naughty by nature's first one, sir mix a lot's first one, a few from too short, ice cube's 'the predator' and some ice t albums.

in one of your early reviews you said that gravediggaz' 'six feet deep' is your favorite hip hop album, is that still the case? i wonder because 'enter the wu tang...' has rza is in both and gravediggaz sounds pretty much like wu tang

well, this one is okay. some of it is great, but it's not a great album. the best about the group is the agressive chaotic mass battling against each other. that's very entertaining! it has an amazing feeling from time to time ("shame on a nigga", "da mystery of chessboxing", "bring da ruckus", "wu-tang clan ain't nuthing ta f' wit"). also the interludes are hilarious.
but it's not very consistent. how come you don't complain about this, mark? i totally expected you to moan about the lame "can't it all be so simple", the two solo songs and the total rip off "wu-tang: 7th chamber II"...why put the same (boring) song twice on a record with a slightly different background? nobody cares! i certainly see why people like these guys. it IS a cool concept and they are very self ironic, aggressive, creative... but this is, if anything, a fair debut, not a great album. and certainly not the classic the hype wants you to believe. plus it sounds pretty dated. ahhh, you see? there is so much to complain about! 7/10 (with sympathy)


Mark, when a rapper makes you feel emotional about mirror tent, candy paint, or popping the trunk..something must be special. Sometimes this style reminds me of my father's Ricky Nelson albums. Ricky never 'rapped' about the same bitch twice. Well, it's similar when the rapper gets an 'xbox in his custom Lexus.' See, it's these things in life that makes them wake up every morning to do the damn thing. It's not just boastful bullshit, it's motivation.

Yeh yeh yeh good shit from da clan. Not the masterpiece it's acclaimed as, because the last two songs suck. But still--7 hits, roughly? I'll be alone on this and say Raekwon's the most "skillz"ful MC of the bunch, and ODB and Method Man are merely instantly recognizable entertainers. And the big hit "Protect Ya Neck" is just fabulous, bleeped-out cuss words and all. Still, Company Flow's sole album Funcrusher Plus, indebted to RZA's innovations as it is, is better--and about twenty minutes longer. Buy that first.

And while we're on the subject on albums that are not Wu-Tang--come one, come all to Klaus Schulze's 1972 New Age landmark Irrlicht! Brian Eno may have gotten all the fame, but Klaus came first and most furious. Best. . . three chords. . . ev-er.

i have given some thought to why it is that white people (such as myself) love this album so much. some of it may be closet racism (ie the violence and threats play into their own unconscious views of how black america is/should be), but i think a large part is that it's a very punk rock album and appeals to people who like that aesthetic. i recently found some early clan footage online (presumably shortly after the release of 36 chambers). they're playing a small club, on a small stage (barely enough room for all nine of them) with only three mics between them. the crowd is going ape-wild, jumping around, fist-pumping, there's sing-alongs and it almost seems like a punk rock show. and despite RZA always being the defacto leader, ODB on-stage acts as the ring-leader, doing all the in-between song chatter, yelling, getting people amped up, doing speeches about "killing whitey". makes you realize what a great performer he was at his peak and what a loss his death was. but anyways, it fits in with the whole early wu-tang feel, which is kind of like that of an early punk rock album. same visceral energy, same rawness, same uncompromising character.

the rawness if a major factor in why i love this, but also a feeling of cohesion that other wu records lack. while i feel like a lot of the MCs in the group (most notable ghost and rae) were not even close to being on their peak on this record, and everyone has much more similar flows and deliveries (minus ODB and meth who always stood out from day one), that's part of what makes it stick together so well. also i think there's a great emphasis on actual SONGS as opposed to just a beat with some rhyming over it. but there's also a lot of depth and subtlety (particularly in RZA's prodcution) that makes it consistently entertaining and brings you back over and over. also u-god and masta killa (the two weakest members, though they've both improved a lot in recent years) barely appear here. a 10.

Sorry to add to the comments here but I just discovered a Wu-Tang solo album that annihilates this. GZA, Liquid Swords, 1995--exceeds the hype. Think of it as just like 36 Chambers, but with one member dominating (who's not quite the best performer of the bunch, but has decently brainy lyrics), and with the production going UTTERLY FRIGGING NUTS. I mean, this album's raw and clattery--Liquid Swords FREAKS YOU OUT. If your skin isn't crawling after the first seventy-five seconds, you've been inurred by Opeth records.

Yeah, the rest of the first track isn't all that great, but the rest of the album kills.

As far as Cuban Linx goes (that's the album that started the "Yo I'm a drug GODFATHER wit' mad mafia Jon Gotti skillz yo word" crap-trend), it's too long and has too much Ghostface yelling in your ear.

Add your thoughts?

Wu-Tang Forever - Loud 1997
Rating = 5


Well, that about covers it for white rock fans! Thanks for stopping by!

If you're still here for some reason, let's take a look through the CD booklet and see what's been on the minds of the Wu-Tang Clan in the four years since their violent, aggressive debut CD.

Page four - RZA wearing a Wu-Tang Clan wool hat
Page five - GZA wearing a Wu-Tang Clan wool hat and 'Wu Wear' denim jacket
Page eight - Masta Killa wearing a Wu-Tang Clan wool hat
Page nine - Method Man wearing a pair of 'Wu Wear' gloves
Page thirteen - Ghostface Killah wearing a 'Wu Wear' baseball cap
Page fourteen - Inspectah Deck wearing a Wu-Tang Clan wool hat
Page sixteen - Information on how to become a 'Wu-Member' for only $24.95 + $4.95 for shipping and handling
Page seventeen - Official Wu-Wear merchandise for sale, including Wu-Tang Clan wool hat (apparently called a 'skullie'), cap, hoodie, sweatshirt, three styles of men's t-shirts, and four t-shirts designated 'strictly for the ladies'
Page eighteen - Order form for Wu-Wear merchandise: T-Shirts $20.00, Skullie & Cap $12.00, Sweatshirts & Hoodies $50.00
Page nineteen - Order form for Loud Gear merchandise (T-shirts, sweat shirt, and Limited Edition black Helly Hansen staff jacket)
Page twenty - Two web site addresses, five solo albums and eight different $1.98-per-minute Wu-Tang Clan 900- numbers, including 900-Get-The-Wu, 900-Ghostface, 900-868-U-God, and a "Dateline" (!?) at 900-267-LOVE.

In summation, eleven of the CD booklet's twenty pages are devoted to non-music-related merchandising. BAMM! Keepin' it real!

Between the first album and this one, the band become huge stars in the hippity-hop community, due in large part to well-received solo LPs by Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killa, Ol' Dirty Bastard and The RZA. Unfortunately, history has shown us that whenever the members of a band begin releasing solo albums, the work of the collective unit suffers from paucity of material. The Beatles are a perfect example; Ringo released I Wanna Be Santa Claus in 1999 and the 'Fab Four' haven't put out a decent album since. Nevertheless, apparently figuring "Hay we have four guys who didn't put out solo albums; let's do a two-hour CD," the Wu-Tang Clan opted to test the patience of the world with this depressingly boring, frustratingly inconsistent and only intermittently entertaining double-disc.

Along with an urge to sell clothes, the Clan's success has apparently created in the band (a) a social conscience and (b) an interest in sounding as polished as their slickest competitors. The former is understandable, if regrettable from the white rock fan's standpoint. You have to figure these guys understand the potential influence of their lyrics on overly impressionable listeners, and with increased exposure they probably wanted to be positive role models for young African-Americans. Well, not Ol' Dirty Bastard, but the other guys. Unfortunately, their positive messages are steeped in the dullest rhetoric imaginable. I sat down a few days ago to familiarize myself with the lyrics and my eyes literally glazed over by the fourth song. Then some guy ate them thinking they were donuts and now I'm blind WU-TANG CLAN MORE LIKE BO-RING CLAN IF YOU ASK MY BLOODY DRIPPING SOCKETS

Here is just one example - let me know at what point this verse is supposed to become of any interest whatsoever:

"Check these high hats sting things moving through the rubbish
Party robust, rec room style for you brothers
Time's ticking, erupt misconduct
Entering one funk before the drum dry up
Dial, style, jab vocab slow
Alphabet run, construction voice might blow
Tap dance swelling Hemingway novel model
For a breather, dirty reefer hide your bottle
Cut down, come with something that's round and profound
Blood brothers people of colors we get down
Watch this fly, force feed things being said
Nine Diagram acid black evil red left his
mic half a dangle, seriouser man
My mic clapper def wish, everlasting plan
heavenly God body, know me as the cleaner
Night champion, old villain style seem a
kiss of spider, to God saga why bother
Godfather talk drama, fly swatters."

The whole album sounds like this. Oh, for the halcyon days of "Do ya wanna get your teeth KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT!?"

RZA's attempt to polish up the band's attack is also a bummer, replacing the gritty urban feel of the debut with a mixture of cinematic corniness and bland minimalism, both dripping with melodramatic minor chords to suggest 'trepidation' and/or 'sorrow'. Furthermore, most of the MCs have calmed their verbal approach to the point where it could be anybody rapping - as evidenced by the fact that they have a new member (Cappadonna) whose voice is so non-descript that he would have stuck out like a dull thumb on Enter The 36 Chambers, yet he fits in just perfectly here. And what's with the female soul singers? Get that dog out of my tomato!

Of course, there are some things I don't like about the album too. But we can save those for another time. Let's keep this upbeat by continuing to focus on the positive:

(a) Ten of the tracks are actually quite good, either pumping up the tempo for some energetic speed-rapping ("Severe Punishment," "Deadly Melody," "The Projects," "Hellz Wind Staff"), venturing into intriguingly strange new directions (screwy-as-hell inept-sounding key changes in "For Heavens Sake," nostalgic barogue-rap "A Better Tomorrow," two minutes of RZA bitching about r'n'b in "Intro," boxing metaphor dialogue-rap "The M.G.M."), or just coming up with a catchy goddamned hook for once (cool bubbly bass line "As High As Wu-Tang Get," sad descending organ/bicycle horn hook "Bells Of War").


In conclusion, the Wu-Tang Clan ARE still 'keepin' it real' on Wu-Tang Forever; it's just that 'real' now means being a group of critically respected and commercially successful hip-hop artists. Unfortunately, their comfortable new lifestyles aren't as conducive to interesting storytelling as their shitty old ones were.

And please don't think I'm using "comfortable" as an insult, like "bourgeois." Everybody deserves to be comfortable.

Except starving orphans. Those pricks deserve an aluminum can up their ass. FUCK YOU, LITTLE KIDS WITH NO FOOD OR PARENTS!! YOU'VE LEECHED OFF OUR TAX MONEY FOR THE LAST TIME!!!!

William F. Buckley
Conservative Poltergeist

Reader Comments

Wow, Mark. You can't imagine my excitement when I clicked on the link to your site in my favorites thinking to myself "I bet that lazy asshole hasn't updated his site at all and I'm wasting my time clicking on this link like a foolish fool," only to find you had updated your site with reviews of the beloved Wu-Tang Clan. Now imagine my crushing disappointment when after a promising first review I saw you gave "Forever" only five Hal eyes or whatever those things are. Although I do see how a double album could grow tiresome to a non Wu-enthusiast (or "enthWusiast" as I like to say, ha ha), I feel this album is the natural progression of their style and sound given the circumstances they were working in (i.e. being gigantic rap stars). I am flipping through the tracks in Itunes and while there are a few clunkers, I would say the vast majority of the songs are pure awesome, lyrically and musically. While it comes nowhere close to the debut, it forges ahead in new directions and is admirable in its dedication to progression. The fact that you don't enjoy their drug-induced-hip-hop-philosopher-weird-shit lyrics is understandable, but I love them and enjoy hearing things like Rza rap about Allah and Transformers in the same breath. I was even more shocked to see you had given out higher ratings to the albums that came after it as they suck a lot of balls in my opinion. Obviously there are some great tracks on them, but mainly I see the necessary Wu collection consisting of "Enter the Wu-Tang," the first Meth, ODB, Gza, Rae, and Ghost solo albums, and "Forever." The new album has some especially terrible tracks on it, but the great ones (Rushing Elephants, Unpredictable, Windmill, Weak Spot, Heart) make up for it. I even like Rza's "Sunlight" a lot, but I'm a big fan of his general weirdness. Anyway, as the Wu says, "Have a nice day, Mark Prindle!"

This one is decent, it has some good tracks but like you said its just too long. A lot of rap albums are like that though, see Busta Rhymes for good examples. You could probably put the good tracks together and have a decent single album, but trying to listen to the whole thing I find myself skipping tracks. Needs more ODB too.

this happens to be the album that got me into them in the first place. I was intrigued with all them solo albums and the fact that the lyrics actually were pretty intelligent, as, even in the 90s, there were mainly two kinds of rap fans when I went to middle school and there was no way I was going to be caught dead listening to master p

which, inherently lies the problem with wu tang's second album. it represents an entire group of hip hop artists who, in order to counter balance the violent and mysogonistic gangsta rap sounds which had become so popular, instead we get overly intellectual, boring hip hop which throws philosophy and big words at the listener

other examples include the roots and common, rappers who have intellectualized rap so much, it's not fun at all. interestingly enough, my friend who got me into all this stuff also made a statement about how rappers wouldn't be able to release rap albums in the style of wu tang's first one any more because no one would take them seriously, that they have to adapt to more modern, less primitive hip hop styles.

Bloated, yes, but listenable. This is the first Wu album I listened to (out of two), and I'd just say it suffers more from lack of great songs than surplus of bad ones. On the first one, we all thought to ourselves "Holy SHIT! That's a great song! And then. . . another! And. . . another! And. . . wait, that one blows. But wait. . . another!" Here, it's just like: "Yeh yeh yeh. Yeh yeh yeh dems some good shit from da Clan" and so forth. A matter of degree, in other words. Talent is on display everywhere, it's just the material isn't BAMMMM! good like it used to be. It's just a good two hours listening to some well-talented fellows show us how dexterous and highly skilled they are at talking over a beat. No masterpiece (then again, neither was the first, good as it was). Just good times.

But I must say, I'm a little concerned about this "Rap cannot be overintellectual. Rap must be HARRRRRRD"/"Rap cannot be overharrrrrd. Good music is etc." dichotomy that seems to prevail amongst us white folk. It's perfectly possible to be BOTH, as demonstrated by Company Flow, WHOSE SOLE ALBUM EVERY RAP FAN WITHOUT A COMPULSIVE NEED FOR "STREET TALES" (that numbers to about 2,000 people in the entire Western Hemisphere combined) SHOULD GET. I PUT THIS IN CAPS BECAUSE IT SEEMS NOT EVEN NEW YORK RESIDENTS HAVE HEARD OF THEM. AAAAAAH.

See, they're weird, intellectual, and arty, but they also cuss a lot, sound pissed off, and rap really really really fast. Over really really REALLY slow beats. What excuse do rap fans have?

Oh, surely it's not the fact that Robert Christgau hates their frigging guts. If anything, that's a recommendation in their favor. Stupid "street"-obsessed man. (I'd like to see him in "hood" dress trying to stroll though Queensbridge one day. That'd teach 'im.)

i'm not really married to the post-36 chambers wu-tang clan albums (some of the solo albums are a different matter), so i'm not going to disagree with you too violently, but i think you're selling this a little short. there's two main problems with forever: 1) it's too long/needs to be edited 2) it's following up their classic debut and their excellent first five solo albums (in particular GZA's liquid swords and raekwon's cuban linx). for my money, RZA's master-stroke, production-wise, was liquid swords, and forever sounds like a somewhat less good version of that, lacking in both the incredible invention of the beats on liquid swords and the low-key menace of 36 chambers. that said, there's still some really good stuff on here. if he had edited out the weaker ones, there's a single albums worth of really strong beats.

and the MCs. like i said on 36 chambers, many of the members hadn't fully developed their styles yet and while that led to less interesting and diverse flows, everyone coalesced together much better. here we have a group of MCs really hitting their stride, but not mixing as well, and now we're also starting to get some inconsistency. first off, u-god and masta killa are now in full effect and they're clearly weaker than the rest (MK in particular at this point was just basically talking really slowly) and RZA has completely gone to shit, trying to cram as many syllables into as few seconds as possible and totally fucking it up. also for reasons unfathomable to me, he let in cappandonna as an unofficial member, and cappa is straight awful. rae and ghost, however, are really hitting their stride and sound GREAT. GZA and deck are killing it too (deck's verse on triumph is my favorite wu-verse, period). but there's too many songs and not enough quality trouble. the worst part is that it's not even necessarily good song vs. bad song, where you can make a single-cd of your favorites, the inconsistency is in each song! a good example is "for heaven's sake": great beat, great deck verse, meh masta killa verse, AWFUL cappadonna verse. how do you edit the bad parts out there? plus there's a lack of concentration of actual songs, which is one of the strengths of 36 chambers.

but mostly i'm critical of it because i love the clan so much and it's frustrating to see them putting in less than their best. but when it's on, it's ON. i'm going to give it a 7.

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The W - Columbia 2000
Rating = 6

It may seem strange for a rap band to write an entire album about their favorite luxury hotel, but The W is ind

Hang on, I just got a phone call from President McCain and unfortunately it seems I'm under national security decree to publish a Mark(TM) Prindle(R) Wu-Tang Clan Voice(TM) Teller-Aparter(R) Guide(TMR) (or MPW-TCVT-AG) 2.0. "It's simply impossible," states the President, "to tell any of them apart anymore." Adds Vice-President Federline, "Chief and commander, hand your ass to you in a basket wrapped in plastic. I'm loony." As such, here it is:

- Gary "GZA" "The Genius" Grice: Sounds relaxed.

- Robert "RZA" "The RZArecta" "Prince Rakeem" "Bobby Digital" Diggs: Sounds calm.

- Russell Tyrone "Ol' Dirty Bastard" Jones: Sounds imprisoned.

- Clifford "Method Man" Smith: Sounds well-rested.

- Corey "Raekwon The Chef" Woods: Sounds peaceful.

- Dennis "Ghostface Killah" Coles: Sounds like he's crying.

- Jason "Inspectah Deck" Hunter: Sounds non-descript.

- Lamont Jody "U-God" Hawkins: Sounds fine.

- Elgin "Masta Killa" Turner: Sounds comfortable.

- Darryl "Cappadonna" Hill: Sounds like the others.

I don't know what it takes to light a fire under the assholes of successful rappers, but this laidback, non-insanely-violent approach is an absolute bore. Plus too many of the songs are just one sample over and over for four minutes with some guy talking over it. Furthermore, there's not enough back and forth between different rappers and you often find yourself listening to one voice for minutes at a time, a depressing rarity on a Wu-Tang Clan album. And another thing - the songs are too slow! And while we're on the topic, why does Ghostface Killah sound like he's crying in two of the songs? Hey, I'm not finished - there are also a lot of bigtime famous rap guest stars! Not that that's negative, but I had to mention it somewhere.

Guest stars include Redman, Junior Reid, Nas, Paulissa Moorman, Isaac Hayes, Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes. The latter two prove themselves 500 times more interesting than any Wu-Tang Clan MC circa 2000, but I'm sorry - it's absolutely impossible to take Isaac Hayes seriously anymore. No matter how soulful or heartfelt the song, I keep expecting him to break into "Suck on my salty chocolate balls - put 'em in your mouth! Put 'em in your mouth and suck 'em!"

And please understand that I'm only bitching to high heaven because Enter The 36 Chambers is such a masterpiece (aside from the pointless final song). It literally hurts my soul to think of such a wonderful Rap-Hop band so quickly degenerating into a mediocre slop of talky goo. But to be fair and look at the glass as half full, none of their records are bad. They're just inconsistent.

Take The W for example, since this is the The W review. The single "Careful (Click, Click)" is an awesomely creepy conglomeration of box cutters, gunshots and murder floating upon a celestial boat of wicked cool Meat Beat Manifesto-y electronic noises. "One Blood Under W" is another winner, driven by a spy-intrigue horn/guitar flourish and emotional Rasta singing by Junior Reid. And before you think you can beat "Redbull," consider the fact that it features the lyric, "In a room full of crackers, I might cut the cheese." (!) (!!!) Others too, come on.

Still, I can't TELL you the number of times this album drives me to scream "CHANGE THE FUCKING SAMPLE!!!!" Did The RZA not notice how goddamned annoying it is to hear a loud soul "Oh! OHHHH!" every couple of seconds for three and a half minutes (e.g. "Hollow Bones," the worst song of all time)!? Or how the high-speed single "Protect Ya Neck (The Jump-Off)" is completely destroyed by the endless blockade of pussy-footing "Bip! Haa! Bip! Haa! Bip! Haa!" sample repetitions? I'm not expecting math rock here, but if you're going to be a lazy DJ, at least pick a sample that isn't actively irritating! For example, dogs singing "Jingle Bells." Why not do a nice rap over that? Or the theme from Benson? And I'm not saying that because Robert Guillaime is black; I just think it's a great song. "Wump-woo-doo! Bip-bup-a-boo-doo! Bud-da-boo-doo! Bu-dip-bop-bip-bop-duppa-doo!" There, I even wrote the sheet music for you.

Beats too slow, music too repetitive, rapping too mellow - and is the weepy, syrupy "I Can't Go To Sleep" supposed to be a joke? If so, it's a great joke!!! If not, it's a joke!!!

"Gravel Pit" is a great single too. I refuse to describe it.

Reader Comments

i have, over the years, gained a great appreciation for this album. after you accept that ODB is basically gone (minus that one terrible appearance in conditioner), what you have here is nicely pared-down album (the way forever should have been), a set of mostly-excellent MCs (minus cappadonna, who thankfully appears minimally here) and a bunch of really INTERESTING and diverse RZA beats. masta killa has stepped up his game, u-god is fine though still doesn't really do it for me, RZA is still a shitty MC but at least has the courtesy to not appear too much, and everyone else is sounding damn fine, though GZA is starting to slip a bit. also, the repetitive sample thing doesn't really bother me, because it's mixed up with some really engaging stuff, that nifty low end on let my crackas live, the strings on i can't go to sleep (which is my favorite track on the album, good god man), the drum pattern (and overall sound) on jah world, the unexpected change-up at the end of careful, the whole damn thing. and much more focused at that.

and to be honest mark, as much as i love your writing and respect your opinion, i'm not sure you really get what makes most members of the clan such great MCs. you have yourself admitted that you are not a lyrics man, and i feel like this prevents you from seeing what makes someone like ghost or deck (who is NOT non-descript) great and someone like cappa terrible, or someone like snoop embarrassing and washing up. i think you should keep listening. anyways, i give this a 9.

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Iron Flag - Columbia 2001
Rating = 6

It's crazy how people have different opinions about things. You'd think that since the entire human race was created in the image of a single Christian God, we'd all pretty much agree on everything, but strangely such is not the case at all. For example, Official MarkPrindle.com Interviewer Transcriber Jim Laakso considers this to be a great album, but adds that he prefers the soul-inflected first half to the darker second half. Compare and contrast this opinion with that of leading Van Halen fan Mark Prindle, who considers the first half a near-complete piece of shit but the second half the finest piece of art this world has ever known. I'm hyperbolizing of course, but that's the nature of being a "hyper" person who's been to "Belize"! (and replaced the first 'e' on the country's billboard with an 'o')! Still, let's get to the point.

Aside from one funky and unintentionally funny track, the first half of this CD is 2 minimalist 2 B 4-given: "In The Hood" with its cartoonish action horns and shitty clumpy beat; "Chrome Wheels" with its two chords; "Soul Power" with its ONE chord and excruciating, pointless Flavor Flav appearance; "Uzi" with its dull-as-airport (HEEE! GET IT??? "DULLES AIRPORT"???) marching band pbbbl; "One Of These Days" with its echoplex stereo bass attack, single distorted vocal line and soaring David Gilmour guitar sol - one sec.

"One Of These Days" with its bland horn blasts, drab soul vocals and literal miles of empty space. These aren't songs; they're 'old school' rap skeletons that sound like The RZA and his production butt-buddies put no creativity or thought into them at all. Plus the brass loops are so bright, they sound completely overblown behind such laidback rhyme exchanges (that's one good thing, btw: they're back to trading hella verses rather than letting one jerk take up minutes at a time).

Before moving on to the GOOD half, let me share with you an email that Jim Laakso sent me upon learning that I planned to review Wu-Tang Clan. This pretty much sums up the 'funky and unintentionally funny track' I mentioned earlier:

"Iron Flag kicks some ass, especially on the first few songs. Best lyrics:

Who the fuck knocked our buildings down?
Who the man behind the World Trade massacres, step up now
Where the four planes at huh is you insane bitch?
Fly that shit over my hood and get blown to bits!
No disrespect, that's where I rest my head
I understand you gotta rest yours true, nigga my people's dead
America, together we stand, divided we fall
Mr. Bush sit down, I'm in charge of the war!

I get a kick out of how he says 'no disrespect' to bin Laden."

But just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water and hurl this terrible CD out into the ocean so it'll stop stinking up the joint, it suddenly gets really GOOD! Tough, troubled, aggressive, driving, threatening, dark, menacing, depressing, brooding, hypnotic, emotional -- these adjectives and more can be observed floating around inside my brain as I sit stunned and impressed through five great songs in a row. Where was this pessimistic mood and rough street ambience the entire first half of the CD, when I was stuck here listening to a bunch of giggling idiots at a crap-horn recital? Are you with me, Dr. Wu?

By the way, that would TOTALLY be my pseudonym if they invited me to join the band. Excuse me, make that when they invite me to join the band. Or at very least, it'd be a toss-up between "Dr. Wu" and "Professor Tang (And by "Tang," I mean "Pussy") (Not that I'm a "Pussy," but that I enjoy th -- actually they might have a character limit on pseudonyms, I'll have to ask about that. "Dr. Wu" is probably better anyway because you can mix up the letters and get "Wurd," which is a pretty popular piece of slang in the Afro-American and Colored Communities. It's making headway in the Negro Community as well.

On the lyrical tip, there is a strong thematic focus on the perils of the street drug trade -- an interesting idea for a hip-hop concept album, but these 30-something recording stars sound far too calm and un-desperate in their portrayals of these sleazy, violent characters, leaving much of the narrative feeling like false, forced fiction. Which isn't to say it's not enjoyable! I for one would trade the previous two albums in their entireties for funny, over-the-top Iron Flag rhymes like:

"What the fuck is wrong?/It's the Wu bitch!/Ain't got a clue bitch/Tie ya shoe bitch!"

"Yo what the fuck yo?! Yo what the fuck y'all comin for?/Get the fuck away from my door!/We got big guns in here, coke over there/With blue bag and E pills stashed under the chair/And there's Boss Hog black and white pit with the pink lips/Stan thought he was soft 'til he bit his fingers/The shit had me dyin yo, big fat nigga bleedin!"

"I fucked the shit out of Patricia Drummonds/Looked out the window when her man was comin'/GOOD THING WE BROUGHT THE GLOCK"

"Hey - hear what I say, they gotta pay/And my return is like Christ, declare the holiday"

"Potnah, you ain't got no wins in mi casa/Wu-Tang got ya, like every ghetto got a Tasha"

"I love my brother to death/Nigga pussy to the rest!/Shared a pair of Guess/And an Eddie Bauer vest/A bitch named Celeste/I met her when I was goin to cash a Def Jam check/She had some big ass breasts!"

Only one track comes across as absolutely genuine -- the harrowing "Babies," a murder- and abuse-filled expose' of the role played by corrupt law enforcement and apathetic government in ensuring the continued failure and hopelessness of poor African-American communities. Look up the lyrics online. It's good.

You know what else is good? Being done with a review! WHEE!

Also, jokes about dogs.

Why did the dog cross the road?
To urinate over there as well.

How many dogs does it take to screw in a light bulb?
No amount of dogs would be sufficient, because they lack the opposable thumbs necessary to perform the maneuver. Alternately, if food is somehow involved, just one.

Knock knock!
Who's there?
A dog!
A dog who?
No no, I said I'm "agog" at all the great new films coming out this year! Have you seen Fools' Gold? Man!

What do you get when you cross a dog with Bill O'Reilly?
Bill O'Reilly fucking a dog! I don't know.

Reader Comments

rkay51@hotmail.com (Ryan)
Love the Wu Tang reviews, don't own any albums, but the reviews are great. There were a couple of bits that really make me laugh a lot. Also - caught on, mr Steely Dan fan! Long live the Dan.

GOOD THING WE BROUGHT THE GLOCK! god that part is hilarious. anyways, this whole album smacks of laziness. i love the clan. i've listened to this album quite a few times, and i can never remember how ANY of it goes. except the chorus of babies which is incredibly irritating and makes me want to murder someone. there's good verses, but i can't remember any of the lyrics. the beats are pleasant but i can't remember how they go. it's just kind of a whimper. pleasant but ultimately unrewarding. a 6.

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8 Diagrams - Street/Universal Motown 2007
Rating = 8

Say.... Now THIS is interesting! The RZA appears to have realized that in the years since Iron Flag, inexpensive software packages like Pro Tools have hit the market, making it not just possible but easy for 13-year-olds the worldround to create their own wack fresh cold medina beats and platters. "Jeepers!" he must have exclaimed, "I can't just throw a stupid horn on top of two minor chords and call it a song anymore!" The result is the most unorthodox Wu-Tang Clan release since Enter The 36 Chambers: a whole CD of dynamic, content-rich and downright MUSICAL hip-hop compositions!

This approach isn't without its detractors, mind you. Not only have Raekwon and Ghostface Killah publicly expressed their disapproval with RZA's production decisions, but Amazon.com customer reviewer Rap Superstar "Skizm" has declared, "This album is dull den' a mug'." But for my ears' money, the only weakness here is the rapping itself, which often sounds lazy and downright confused. There are strong, energetic moments of course (Christ, there are enough rappers on here - at least one or two must be into it!), but some of the guys sound like they're just reading from a piece of paper, unsure of where the emphasis beats are and afraid to ask (see "Get Them Out Ya Way Pa" for some particularly unenthusiastic mouthwork).

But the music? MUSICAL! Not only does The RZA mix in both live and sampled bass guitar, electric and acoustic guitar, acoustic and electric piano, organ, horns, woodwinds, whistles, strings, harpsichords, sparkly love, spy themes, squiggly noises, jazz, rock, soul, gospel, blues and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"; he also brings in a hoTTT arsenal of guest vocalists to SING the choruses! Dexter Wiggles, Erykah Badu, George Clinton, Sunny Valentine, Tash Mahogany and Gerald Alston turn these raps into SONGS! And no I'm not a soul vocal fan by trade, but something colorful and bright happens when you insert catchy little vocal hooks between verses of people just TALKING to you.

The mixes are great too. He almost never sticks to just one or two background element! For just one example, "Starter" mixes a quirky sax hook, a bass guitar, multiple singers, a low organ drone, a church organ blast, a single funk guitar chord, and a descending wickity noise created (I think) by quickly picking a guitar string down a guitar neck while mute-palming up the neck through a wah-wah pedal. And that's just one song!

Not only that, but the riffs, as short and repetitive as they are, are catchy as absolute hell, including the:

- weird murky multi-elemented 'da doo doo doo doo' bwomp eee-ooo 'yup!' of "Campfire"
- James Bond action/intrigue brass of "Rushing Elephants"
- brass stab attacks and resolving acoustic arpeggio/bass drone of "Unpredictable"
- playful 'The fox is kinda foxy!' chorus of "Foxes"
- eerie quiet arpeggios and excellent sung chorus of "Gun Will Go"
- equally eerie, wiggly 'ooo/ooo/ooo' harmony vocals and sung/rapped 'harmony' of "Stick Me For My Riches"
- fast descending bass run and creepy vibrato guitar arpeggio of "Windmill"

Strangely, although I consider The RZA the genius (or "gza") behind the album, his solo track "Sunshine" is just awful: a weird mush of lonely wordless vocals, stereophonic buzzing, lugubrious piano tinkling and religious lyrics that I seem to have described in my notes as "a sad old 1920's negro woman singing in her home as tiny UFO's fly around the room and a local preacher spouts a sermon at them." But hey! At least it's different!

And BAD!

This is a low 8, understand. More like a 7.5. But MAN is it eons more interesting than their last three records. The lyrics are less interesting than one would hope, but two sets do stand out. The first is "Life Changes," a sincere and surprisingly heartbreaking full-group lament for lost bandmate Ol' Dirty Bastard. But the second is the funny one: an 'interpolation' of The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (or at least, an interpolation of a cover of that song), featuring musical guests Erykah Badu, John Frusciante and The Son Of George Harrison Whose Name I Can't Remember. But here's the kicker. You know how spiritual George Harrison was, right? All peace and spirituality and Hari Krishna (aside from his Manson-inspiring "Piggies")? Then just imagine how quickly he is somersaulting in his casket upon hearing his legendary composition topped by lyrics like "Lacy, short haircut with long arms who fuck niggaz/Got four babies; Yvette jabbed her, slapped her wig off" and "Lester smoked Chester's sister Vest/I heard it was a mess/They ripped the apple out her throat" and "He wouldn't let go the joint, so I fuckin bit him/Shots was whizzin, hittin Clorox bottles/Customers screamin, then the faggot ran out of hollows"? Way to go, George Harrison's bitter, nameless son!

I suspect that true hip-hop fans may find this release overly musical, busy, progressive or even fruity. But boy do I quite enjoy it! It doesn't sound a bit like Enter The 36 Chambers, but it sure does "Bring Da Soundz," boo-yah!

I apologize for firing a bullet out of the computer at the end of that last sentence.

Reader Comments

Hey mark heres what I think: this album had potential but it just falls flat. right from the opening track it starts cool and then the samples go on waaaaaaaaaay too long for my liking, out the way pa is a pointless and retarded song, and the only song i come back to is the heart gently weeps which IS an amazing track though

It was great to see the Wu Tang reviews, I agree whole heartedly. One thing:

You should add the first batch of solo records. They're produced by RZA (I think), they sound like Wu Tang and they all have the entire Clan on anyway.

Further to what Joseph said, I was really hoping to see a review of the 1st ODB record. That is better than 36 Chambers even.

Wu-tang rule! Unfortunately most of their best music is on the solo albums between the first and the second group lps. Esp ODB's and Ghostface Killah's albums (Daytona 500 comes to mind - TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam TOO DE TA DO TA DO TA DO TOO pararam Ok it's gone now.)

I've never been into the first album really. There's no melodies on it, except Tearz and that riff is really just copied out of the old soul record WHICH I WAS ASTONISHED TO FIND OUT I MEAN IT'S LIKE THE GUY JUST -STOLE- THE RIFF! For Heaven's Sake beats everything on the first album, especially at the points where it sounds like RZA screwed something up with the backing track in the chorus.

Some guy

i'm conflicted about this. i also really like the production. i'm slightly confused as to why people are complaining that it's not "street" enough, it sounds far more menacing and claustrophobic than any of their other post-36 chambers albums. and there's a lot of nifty subtle detail that kind of goes over your head the first time and then slowly works its way in, kind of like 36 chambers! and unpredictable...holy shit! but the MCing is a mixed bag. there's two major surprises: 1) method man, out of nowhere, is sounding the best he's sounded since the original tecal! 2) u-god suddenly got really good. he's never sounded bad before, just unmemorable, but now i find myself singing along to him all the time. unfortunately, GZA has really fallen off. still nice lyrics, but just lazy and uninteresting delivery, which breaks my heart a little because he used to be the best (though i did actually really like his last album with DJ muggs, i guess his new style works fine when it's just him but falls flat in a group setting). RZA is still awful. so is cappa. ghost and deck are sounding great though! too bad ghost is barely here. also all the best songs are sandwiched at the beginning. i sort of lose interest towards the middle third, but then it comes back a bit at the end. too bad the clan is falling apart and all the shit-talk and cash-ins are getting a little embarrassing. but against my better judgment i will give this a low 8 as well.

I got to agree with the other comments. It feels like this section is missing something without the first round Wu solos(and maybe Ghostface's second LP). For my money, "Liquid Swords" is the quintessential Wu Tang album. Even if you aren't a lyrics person, RZA's psychedelic production ALONE should put it up there with 36 Chambers and Six Feet Under. Oh, and that Nintendo-sampling beat from Raekwon's album maybe the coolest thing hip-hop ever came up with. RZA was the black Brian Eno during those years.

That farces guy is a fucking moron. odb's first solo album is slightly interesting but it has so much fucking filler its insane, including a 7 minute "sound collage" most likely done by the RZA on crank that is probably heralded by some as "abstract" i herald it as "pure shit"

but nothin beats the title track


aww shit the memories of 6th grade when i randomly found that track on bearshare and loaded it on many a mp3 cd along with pink floyds first two albums as single mp3s

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