Six years after the Wu-Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers poised the
original nine Staten Islanders to take over the record industry,
the Wus have effectively set up hip-hop’s first dynasty.| Releasing
one long-player ode to street life after another, with each member
playing a different roll in the monopoly, they have stormed the
music world, with more than a dozen solo and collective albums and
a cluster of breakbeats, rhymes of passion and king fu cinema
skits. After countless complications — from release delays to jail
sentences to lackluster albums — the Wu-Tang Clan are once again
poised for rap domination. With U-God and Inspectah Deck dropping
solo debuts, ODB’s loony N***a Please debuting in the top
ten, Method Man and Redman’s double-fisted joint,
Blackout!, hitting streets today, and a third full-length
forthcoming from Wu-affiliate Shyheim, the Shaolin posse prove once
again that the Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to f**k with. Here’s a
round-up of the latest Wu-Tang developments:
U-God, Redemption (Wu-Tang/Priority)
The Hype: The Man with Golden Arms, U-God, fires
the final Wu-Tang chamber, as the last of the original Clan members
to release a record.
Mic/Deck Check: Method Man, Inspectah Deck,
Raekwon and other Wu-affiliates join U-God on the vox; True Master,
RZA, Inspectah Deck and others clasp hands in the mix.
411: Moody keys and dark strings match gangster
sci-fi lyrics. True Master’s production fiercely blares on the
horn-laden “Turbulence”, but guest rapper Leatha Face — on
“Knockin At Your Door” and “Rumble” — lets his gun-toting rhymes
get clumsily wordy. Imagine a more apocalyptic Kool Keith without
the sense of humor.
Rating: 6 (out of 10)
Ol’ Dirty Bastard, N***a Please
The Hype: When he isn’t busy running from the
Five-O, Ol’ Dirty takes on yet another alter ego as a ghetto
romancer, Rick James-type.
Mic/Deck Check: Chris Rock, Lil’ Mo, and various
Wu crooners rent a microphone from the “Brooklyn Zoo” keeper, ODB;
RZA, the Neptunes and Buddah Monk lend production fingers.
411: Every outrageous rumor you’ve ever heard
about Ol’ Dirty is realized. A cover of Rick James’s “Cold Blooded”
and guttural secretions like “You Don’t Want to F**k With Me” and
“I Want P***y” are proof of a lower life form. Is he mad or genius?
Both, but more of the former.
Inspectah Deck, Uncontrollable Substance
The Hype: Inspectah Deck, street name Rebel INS,
is a mack of all trades, proving programming prowess on his
Mic/Deck Check: Raekwon, U-God, Method Man, GZA
pull together with the Rebel INS; True Master, 4th Disciple, and
RZA accompany Inspectah Deck to resuscitate the Wu-Tang
411: The most underrated member comes correct
with rugged street anthems “Elevation”, “9th Chamber” and “Grand
Prix”. No posturing or gimmicks -¡ just straight up
Shaolin-style in the vein of the original 36 Chambers.
Shyheim, Manchild (Wu-Tang/Priority)
The Hype: Shyheim Franklin (a k a “The Rugged
Child”), the most prolific of Wu-Tang homies, drops his third
Mic/Deck Check: Method Man, the late Big L, Ray J
and Tek of the Cocoa Brovaz team up vocally with Shyheim Franklin;
True Master, RZA and Shyheim pool studio resources.
411: Outside of “Furious Anger” and “Am I the
Bother’s Keeper”, featuring Method Man, Manchild is still going
through puberty. Underdeveloped cuts “One Life to Live,” “Club
Scene,” and “Cease Fire” are like sloppy first drafts of a high
school essay on living in the ghetto.
Method Man/Redman, Blackout! (Def
The Hype: After Meth and Wu-friendly rapper Red’s
last lethal tag team on “How High,” the two sultans of swing join
forces to knock your lights out.
Mic/Deck Check: LL Cool J and Ja Rule take on Meth
and Red for hip-hop-erazzi title mic fight; prize cutters RZA,
Erick Sermon, Scratch, Rockwilder, Mathematics and Red join in for
a heavy-weight beat down.
411: A who’s who of NYC rah-rah rap have a
memorable one-night stand. It was fun for a night but don’t go
there again. Have no regrets, though, about the terrible twosome’s
tribute to Red camper Rockwilder on “Da Rockwilder” or DJ Scratch’s
contemporary blaxploitation vibe on “1.2, 1.2”.