1. Bring the Ruckus // 2. Shame on a Nigga // 3. Clan In da Front // 4. Wu-Tang 7th Chamber // 5. Can It All Be So Simple // 6. Da Mystery of Chessboxin’ // 7. Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck With // 8. C.R.E.A.M. // 9. Method Man // 10. Protect Ya Neck // 11. Tearz // 12. Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber [Part II]
The Staten-Island, New York-based hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan is the stuff legends are made of. Not only is there their reputation as one of the best groups to have ever passed around a microphone, with this album oft brought up as supporting evidence of this claim, but the nine official members in the group (RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa) have all enjoyed solo-success to varying degrees. Then there are the two unofficial tenth members (Cappadonna and Redman) and countless other affiliates and subordinates who form a legitimate empire of a hip-hop franchise. And their work is acclaimed by hip-hop heads, hipsters, critics and music fans alike.
Part of their strength definitely lies in their numbers, after all with nine official members the chances of everyone’s career going bust simultaneously are nihil and there’s always someone keeping the Wu name alive putting out something someone will care about. At the same time you have something to contribute to that will demand fans attention in the form of Wu-group projects, whenever your last solo-album is gathering dust in record-stores
worldNew York-wide. (The shadow side to having this many members is that begining Wu-enthousiasts will have a hard time telling the various members apart. For those amongst DITC-readers there is Mark(TM) Prindle(R) Wu-Tang Clan Voice(TM) Teller-Aparter(R) Guide(TMR) )
Size isn’t everything though. Luckily besides there being many people in and around the Clan, more importantly it is fact that each and everyone of them brings something to the table. Besides everyone included being a nice MC in their own right it is also so that their many flavours compliment one another very well. From ODB’s high-pitched insanity to Method Man’s chronic-sandpapered husk, and everyone in between. Each puts in their unique two cents, making a Wu-Tang album one of the more varied hip-hop listening experiences around. And RZA’s leadership of the group unites everyone under one beat.
RZA’s production consist mostly of dusty drums and other percussions, enriched with minimal melodies in the form of piano keys throughout the album, tea-pot esque whistles on Protect Ya Neck, a funky, brassy horn loop on the ODB-showcase Shame on a Nigga and even what sounds like a proto-Neptunes synth-organ melody on Tearz. The mood is eerie and cinematic. The tracks are sown together with silly skits and lo-fi samples of Kung-fu movie dialogue. (The group itself was named after the kung-fu movie Wu-Tang vs. Shaolin.)
Lyrically the Clan touches on typical gangsta rap subjects such as promiscuous sex, drug- use and selling, and inner city violence via pop-culture references. Not unlike Dr. Dre’s merry band of potholders the various Wu members separate themselves from the pack through the sheer tightness of their flows, rhymes and beats, as well as a goofy, over-the-top sense of humour.
Highlights include the rowdy album-opener Bring da Ruckus, GZA solo-offering Clan in da Front, the ode to currency-gathering C.R.E.A.M., the proclamation of dominance over hip-hop Protect Ya Neck, and (my personal favourite) the catchy ODB showcase of oddness that is Shame on a Nigga. But with twelve tracks (with the efforts of nine MCs put-in.) there’s no room for filler. This album is consistant as well as varied.
There’s only so much one can say about a classic such as this that does it any justice. Like Mark Prindle did in his review of this album I’ll end with some choice quotables.
Throw your shitty drawers in the hamper.
Next time come strapped with a fuckin Pamper
GZA – Clan in da Front
Ten times ten men committing mad sin.
Turn the other cheek and I’ll break your fuckin’ chin!
RZA – Protect Ya Neck
Burn me, I get into shit, I let it out like diarrhea
Got burnt once, but that was only gonorrhea.
ODB – Shame On a Nigga
Shame on a Nigga
Bring da Ruckus
Clan in da Front
Wu-Tang Ain’t Nuthing…
Protect Ya Neck
Buy this album, now!