Seems like there’s a lot of Wu-Tang material dropping these days, huh? Can’t say I’m surprised. Every couple of years the Clan resurfaces and all the members start dropping projects around the same time. It’s a synergy that worked for them back in the late 90s, and it wouldn’t be farfetched to think it’ll work for them again. The Redman/Method Man album, Blackout 2, just dropped. U-God’s album, Dopium, drops next week on Frank Radio/Babygrande. A new Ghostface single “Forever” leaked two weeks ago. And then there are what seem to be the two biggest projects on deck, the Wu-Tang Chamber Music LP on June 30th, and Raekwon’s Only Built for Cuban Links 2 in August.
Is it a Wu renaissance? Maybe.
I’m probably most excited about the Chamber Music album. In a press release sent out by E1 Music (formerly Koch Records), Rza said:
“This album has a very live element of today’s musicians playing the vibe of Wu-Tang, know what I mean? The vibe we would normally sample, the vibe of things that we would accumulate through old soul songs, jazz songs, kung fu movies whatever, now you’ve got musicians that can play this vibe with Wu-Tang MC’s rapping over it. The goal of this album is definitely paying homage to our early sound. In the old days, we had to sample and find snares and things like that or chord changes just to make a beat. Now, this is being done it with a band. A lot of times, you hear rappers over a live band and that loses the hip-hop because a lot of those bands from the old days wasn’t from the hip-hop generation. On this album, we make it sound like it was in the 36 Chambers era. To me, what also adds to this album, you’ve got the Wu-Tang MCs but you also got your other favorite MCs from that era like Havoc, Cormega and others. This album can be played with a live band and it will sound BIG.”
Listen to a few of the tracks that have leaked and then tell me if they match what he’s describing. I think they do.
The thing about this project that is disappointing to me is the way it’s being marketed and sold. E1 is pushing this project calling it a compilation pairing Wu-Tang emcees with 90s rap veterans. But if you look at the tracklisting, there really aren’t that many rap “veterans” on the album.
2. Kill Too Hard Ft. RZA, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa
3. The Abbot Ft. RZA
4. Harbor Masters Ft. RZA, Ghostface Killah, Az, Inspectah Deck
5. Sheep State Ft. Rza
6. Radiant Jewels Ft. RZA, Raekwon, Cormega, Sean Price
7. Supreme Architecture Ft. RZA
8. Evil Deeds Ft. RZA, Ghostface Killah, Havoc
9. Wise Men Ft. RZA
10. I Wish You Were Here Ft. RZA, Ghostface Killah, Tre Williams
11. Fatal Hesitation
12. Ill Figures Ft. RZA, Raekwon, Kool G Rap
13. Free Like ODB Ft. RZA
14. Sound The Horns
15. Enlightened Statues Ft. RZA
16. NYC Crack Ft. RZA
17. One Last Question Ft. RZA
Kool G Rap, Havoc, Cormega, AZ, Sean Price, MOP… those are 6 rap “veterans,” so to speak, but they’re also like the Koch all stars. These guys are all part of that label family, they all collab with one another and ya’know, I just have higher hopes for something billed as a collaboration project with 90s rap veterans. There’s 17 tracks. I mean, let’s keep it funky, this is a Wu-Tang album with a few features.
Then you’ve got the Raekwon LP, which is a whole different animal altogether. My issue with this project seems to be the press Raekwon is doing for it, which centers around the same couple of questions, namely, “What happened with Dr. Dre and Aftermath? What took so long? Why sign with EMI?” I guess that’s what happens when it takes you five years to release an album, and every year you’ve sat there and talked to people about it, done press and so on, never to have the project drop. There’s an interview over at XXLMag.com today, where Rae talks a little about Rza and Dre being in the studio together, and reading it, I said to myself, wow finally something interesting about this LP!!!
Not that I’m not excited about the album. But just put the fucking thing out already dude. I know you’re going on the Rock the Bells tour throughout the summer, and you’ll hype the project. Thing is, you might actually sell more records if the album was out by the time you hit the road. The days of the big first week are over, and even at that, you might only sell 30k copies. I just don’t see a Raekwon album moving many units in this industry climate, and that’s having nothing to do whatsoever with the quality of music on the LP.
So is the Wu back? I don’t know. Blackout 2 didn’t sell many records, even though Red and Meth have been everywhere promoting it. U-God doesn’t have much of a buzz (even though I am digging the records I’ve heard so far), and the Ghostface track hasn’t caught on yet. Rae’s album hasn’t dropped yet, and the Chamber Music LP is being billed as a compilation project, even though it’s not. And furthermore, it came out of nowhere! Granted, hype is hard to come by, but you still gotta make an effort.
I like the Wu music that is dropping right now. Whether anyone cares, that’s the question.