Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wu-Tang Clan: Legendary Weapons

Albums with music depicting rape, murder, and putting balls on a dresser and smashing them with a spiked-bat, Bwahhh! That's not usually my thing these days. Wu-Tang Clan is different – I can listen to Enter the 36 Chambers for the rest of my life and never get tired of hearing songs like “Clan in da Front” and “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’.” Enter the 36 Chambers may be the most perfect Rap album ever.

Wu-Tang’s latter efforts are a mixed bag. The first round of solo CD’s from GZA, Ghostface Killa, Method Man, Raekwon and Ol' Dirty Bastard were all gritty Hip-Hop masterpieces. As solo careers took shape, Wu-Tang as a group suffered. I never sunk my teeth into Wu-Tang Forever (the second Wu-Tang Clan album), and the place I had in my heart for their Kung Fu styled beats has shrunk with each release.

Does Legendary Weapons pull my love for Wu-Tang back from the grave? No and No again. It’s not a bad album, but it’s probably my least favorite from the group to date.

I’m not giving pity medals for trying either. Legendary Weapons is a compilation and unflinchingly shows. There’s no coherent tone, songs are thrown together one after the next and you never get a feeling for what the producers were going for. I like hardcore rap, jazz, and occasionally R&B, but not all together. It’s such an unsolved Rubik’s cube of a track listing.

Ghostface Killah is the lone lyrical standout from the bunch, but even his verses seem cut short and out of place with the music in the background. Other Wu-Tang members don’t even appear at all. GZA, Masta Killa, and of course Ol’ Dirty Bastard don’t have any time in the spotlight. Not having a few quotes from Ol’ Dirty is understandable, but GZA's absence is a bummer.

The Kung Fu movie quotes and interludes are strewn about each song here and there, it’s a nice touch. I do want to here something new and bold -- but Legendary Weapons just feels unfinished.

At a run time of just around 37 minutes Legendary Weapons is short and forgettable. In this world of commercialized radio Hip-Hop Wu-Tang Clan was a divining light, now they’re just a dwindling afterthought.

Well, I realize that I haven’t said anything positive about Legendary Weapons. Take this then, here’s three good tracks. All three are more reminiscent of the darker hardcore rap sound Wu-Tang was famous for; all feature Ghostface Killah, which helps. Songs worth a listen as you drive to work:

“Meteor Hammer”
“Legendary Weapons”
“The Black Diamonds”

…Maybe I just don’t like compilation albums!?

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