Wu-Tang: Forever?


wu-tang-clan-1997-650-430
So, I was on the internet yesterday , scouring for crap and I came upon a thread about a possible new Wu-Tang album. Actually, to be honest, I had seen this thread but ignored it for weeks. Out of sheer boredom I peaked in just to see what was up and saw people debating whether Wu-tang can, in 2014, A)Actually release an album as a group and b)make it good.
Then I tweeted this:
Screen shot 2013-12-27 at 10.41.04 AM
The response was mostly agreement with a few people scattered in who either saw it as a chance to tell me how shitty rappers I work with are (Oh, internet!) or to somehow try and tell me that Wu-tang can do no wrong.
Now, Like I said in the tweet, we all love Wu-tang. I can’t think of any rap fan alive who fully dismisses them and everything they’re accomplished. Aside from some great albums, they’ve had tons of successful and well received solo albums. Some better than others but , still, Wu Tang is legendary status. They’re that level where people either obsessively know their entire catalogue or they’ve never heard an entire album by them but still own a Wu-tang t-shirt cause , well, they’re poser dipshits. The amount of Wu-tang shirts I’v seen in williamsburg, being worn by people I would bet my life have no idea who Cappadonna is, is pretty depressing. That’s when you know you’ve made it. When people just wanna sport your logo cause they think it’s cool. For many people, the music isn’t even the focus anymore.
All that said, their actual fans are nothing if not faithful. Maybe I’m fair weather but I’ve always been a guy who goes album to album with artists. Sure, a misstep here and there happens cause often an artists creativity will not coincide with what I was hoping for. In those cases, I give a pass to the artist and still look forward to their future work. however, in rap music especially, “mailing it in” is typically a sign of an artists creative flames beginning to wane. In the case of Wu-tang, I’d say their decline has been a mixture of things. While there still is an immense amount of talent in the group, they’re more recent work has been hurt by lack of unity, people with egos and, most of all, a lack of focus. Thing is, I can’t really blame them. These are 8/9 dudes well into their 40’s living life. Some have made a lot of money doing music. some have been in jail. The leader, RZA, is clearly more into making movies than he is music and without him to focus everything, it’s an uphill battle for the rest of them (especially with the unreal expectations people place on projects like this). To add to that point, it’s not like the RZA been knocking it out the park the last decade. Really, looking at their roster, you got Ghostface and Raekwon who have made albums worth hearing in the last ten years. That’s it. And, let’s be honest, Raekwon’s good album was a shocking development. After the shit show that was “Immobilarity”, I didn’t see that one coming AT ALL.
O.D.b is gone.
The GZA BEEN mailing it in since his second album.
Masta Killer put out a sneaky good album in 2004 but , since then I had to go to wikipedia to see he had two newer albums than that. I had no idea.
Method man is gonna meth. I dunno if he’s acting or just touring but he was never a great solo artist in my eyes. Great group member though. He’s one of those guys who’s set financially so I don’t think making new music is that crucial to him.
Inspektah deck, who I always felt was the most underrated in the Clan, has seemingly dropped off the planet, only to reemerge to do an album with 7l and Esoteric that I never heard.
U-god…I don’t even know.
And Cappadonna is actually a dude I’d be curious to hear new music from. More so cause he’s a wild card than I think I’d really like it but, still, I’m curious.

So, what’s going to happen when/if these people reunite? Do you really think magic is possible as this point? A few people online were like “But Iron flag as dope!” but was it? Even if it was pretty good, it was still released over 10 years ago. Looking over their post “Wu-tang forever” releases you can see a clear pattern. Every album from “The W” to “8 Diagrams” is basically an unfocused compilation of songs with about 3 or 4 bangers on it. On the bright side, those songs remind us all why we loved Wu in the first place. I can’t front, when I’m listening to a new Wu-tang song where everyone is on is and the beat is actually decent, it gives me a rush. Even hearing a guy like Method man , who I generally don’t give a shit about, popping in after a U-god verse, makes me feel something. Thing is, those moments are few and far between and , once the excitement of “That was so cool to hear again…” wears off, the desire to revisit that song wanes. It’s as if the nostalgia can only carry them so far.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a person who thinks Wu-tang have another great album in them. That said, I’m rooting for them. I think the worst thing anyone as a Wu-tang fan can have right now is expectations. Don’t go back to “36 Chambers” and think “this can be done again” cause it can’t. Different time, different place. different circumstances. Music doesn’t work like that. I mean, shit, you know how many times I’ve been asked “When you gonna make another ‘Music by Cavelight’?”. And I’m me! imagine being the fucking RZA? I’d wanna make movies too. So, I’m curious what you guys think. I’m admittedly a realist with pessimistic leanings so I’m always gonna expect the worst but hope for the best. But, I ask you, Wu-tang faithful, is Wu-tang Forever?

While we’re here, let’s look at some post “Wu-tang Forever” highlights:







23 thoughts on “Wu-Tang: Forever?

  1. My dad almost ran Ghostface over and got into a screaming match with him. Aside from that, I completely agree with you. And for the record, I’m native to Staten Island. These dudes are legends. So, I think they can fart out an album that has a handful of bangers on it and the rest will be the rap equivalent to elevator muzak. It won’t be bad, but it won’t have the same sort of magic that people are probably expecting. To me, it’ll just be good to hear them rap more. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it to be on the level of 36 chambers. But it most likely won’t be. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  2. To echo what DiscoVietnam once said i think whatever connection the Wu members had was ruptured after ODB died

    P.S. I’d add Radioactive (Four Assassins) to that list of great post-Foever bangers

  3. Wu tang is forever because they gave us enough good music to last that long. Let’s not forget about the affiliates either. Killarmy, Gravediggaz, Sunz of Man, Killah Priest, J-love mixes…and so on… Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars (4th Disciple) is one of the best wu bangers of time and didn’t feature many of the core members. And Gravediggaz….6 ft deep…front to back classic. Man I’m from the south and when I heard GFK’s Ironman in the mid 90’s it changed my life at the time; Still the best Wu album in my opinion. I listened to classic Wu almost everyday from 2005-2010. I never listened to or put expectations on their stuff since early 2000’s; Now I listen to Blockhead Throway files and whatever I find when sample digging.

  4. Speaking of hipsters wearing music related clothing that they actually have no knowledge about. My wife recently got into Joy Division in a big way, and she has been asking me to buy her this shirt:

    I told her not to get it because 99% of the people wearing this shirt have no idea who they are and probably could not name one of their songs. She has seen it in magazines and models wearing it and shit(she’s not from the US so I cut her some slack for not knowing how shit is manipulated in the US). I told her most music fans will think she one of those idiots and if someone does like her shirt then they are probably one of those idiots. I’m guessing this shirt gets tons of exposure in Williamsburg…..

    Also, Wu-tang…I don’t have high hopes for anything they put out. I own their first 3 albums and 36 Chambers, which is classic, is the only one I go back to with any regularity. The W was pretty terrible.

  5. I think like led zeppelin, the Beatles, pink Floyd, etc. they are icons. All of those bands put out legendary albums in their prime and each generation rediscovers them.

    Wu-tang made like 6 perfect albums in a group and in solo form all with rza at the helm. Now, like you said they all lost the focus but mostly because rza was the lightening in the bottle the whole time. The beats are where 36 chambers really pulled all the unity together if that makes sense. The one uniform sound in those first albums. Now they’ve got like 4 th and 5 th cousins named Buddha 7th scientist of man and shit making beats trying to recapture rzas classic sound.

    But rza has moved on. He’s found new direction. New art. Grown up.

    So I think they are forever for sure but it lives on in those first albums. Plus ODB is dead. Anything they do now is out of duty unless they can focus in on their solo careers like ghostface has tried.

    Meth can rap but he doesn’t have the mindset of a producer so it’s harder for him to grow into a new sound unless he has a decent producer to take him along.

    But blah blah. What do I know? Haha. I can say I remember the day I bought 36 chambers on cassette. Everything changed at the very moment it started playing

  6. I can’t think of any rap fan alive who fully dismisses them and everything they’re accomplished.
    Im def this person and have gotten the most shit ever for it, in highschool there was only a couple kids listening to some real good music taking into consideration that our school was composed of bungalos on an elementary school parking lot.This kid at school that was up on his tunage showed this group of kids some wu tang joints and it was an epidemic. Thats all the whole crew bumped, ate, shit, and breathed. weirded me out it was 2007 and id been over wu tang sense middle school so i never looked back .

  7. In last year or so, I kinda got newfound respect for meth and get over ghostface. Big part of it was seing them both live (meth killed it and ghosts was most half assed show ever), but meth is really consistent on group stuff and features (he never sounds like he’s mailin it in) while I heaven’t heard decent ghost verse since OBCL 2 probably. And in all interviews I saw everbody always talks highly of meth while ghost and rae mostly go back and forth with rza bickering and whatnot.

  8. First, I’ve been told that the Wu logo is a HUGE trend with girls in Japan right now. Can’t substantiate that, but pretty sure it’s true.

    Second, they were a hot topic last month in Montreal when a couple of members who were expected to show up didnt. I dont remember who bailed and I have no opinion about it bc I dont know what Im talking about lol….I know this always happens with their shows…..but wowww I remember the heads had polarizing opinions about it, was intense.

  9. check masta killa’s album from last year ‘selling my soul’. its chilled out as fuck, but its dope. very low hopes for a new ‘great’ wu album though. if it does happen, however, they will need to decentralize their shit. rzas not gonna lead them anymore, but he can still produce (dunno how old this one is, but earl’s ‘molasses’ from doris). though its gotta have vision and thus be tight (not loose) on some almost concept shit. wu’s albums have been too sloppy, they’ve gotta have some non-rza all around control. and the hardest part i imagine: each motherfucker has to commit to this shit, and not be little babies concerning their egos and money and shit

  10. Ghostface is the most consistent member & not every album he puts out is good. I agree, everything after Forever has a few good tracks, with a bunch of forgettable ones. The most consistent hip hop artists are the producers. It’s not easy to be consistently on point with the lyrics over the course of an entire career, which is why DOOM is so great.

  11. First, here is a link to the latest interview with RZA re: the new Wu album: http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/5800506/rza-on-wu-tang-clan-we-cant-wait-seven-years-for-another-album

    He more or less confirms at the end of the article what everyone already knew: He’s focused on acting at this point and doesn’t see himself on the mic a few years from now. What’s more telling is his revealing which Clan members have been M.I.A. for this new album. He name-checks Raekwon like he’s trying to send a message. In other interviews he’s mentioned other members who didn’t care enough to show up for the recording sessions. There is a very obvious lack of unity in the Clan at this point. They are 20 years into their careers and, for the members who are financially sound there is probably little incentive to give a shit. No doubt some of the members are e-mailing RZA their finished verses. It will show in the finished product. Except for the die-hards very few people are checking for their solo albums.

    Anything better than a “pretty good” Wu album would be a welcome surprise. It is hard for ANY musical act, in any genre, to stay relevant for 20+ years. The few that have are icons; I think Wu are icons and have put out enough great material to back that statement up. But their relevance lasted only a decade (except for Ghost and Raekwon who have put out memorable stuff since then). Rap is a fickle female and there are exactly 0 groups or solo artists who have held people’s attention longer than they have (Is Redman still doing anything?). So they should feel proud of their accomplishments. But none of the members has changed their styles or tried to do anything avante gard enough to stay current; RZA’s forays into acting and film scoring have been abundantly MISS. It’s too early to tell if they are Forever. Ask us in 10 years.

  12. It’s hard to reach the level of 36 chambers because of when it came out and how novel the sound was. It was exciting and different and needed. Now that we are familiar with what Wu tang can offer, it’s hard to replicate or even surpass what made them great. At the least the collabs you haven’t heard from in a while is enough for a fan to cop the album, or listen to it on the internet somehow. But as a fan of an artist, you always believe the artist has the power to take you back to where you first started digging them. If not take you back, take you somewhere else, that isn’t shitty. So fuck yeah there’s hope.

  13. For what it’s worth, I would have preferred there’s a 50/50 chance option in your voting category. You kinda jumped from certainly, to not in a million years, to probably not but it’s possible. I give it a 50/50 chance. That said, I don’t expect most great artists to continue to make great music. I wouldn’t expect A Tribe Called Quest to come out with some great new album all of a sudden and when was the last time The Roots made a truly great record? I honestly think one of the biggest disadvantages is no ODB. It’s not that ODB was the greatest of the Wu MC’s and certainly in the Wu solo catalogue Liquid Swords and Cuban Linx are the best, but every time I go back and listen to 36 Chambers which I still actually do often, ODB throws something into a track that is like a much needed icing on a cake: protect ya neck, shame on a nigga, etc. without ODB would have been not been nearly as good. I don’t know how they’d make a truly great album without that crazy motherfucker.

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