Let us begin by stating this is the new Wu-Tang album, but it is not the new Wu-Tang Clan album. Six original members (No Gza or Masta Killa…ouch) are here to bring you Shaolin’s finest, with the music provided by Brooklyn soul band The Revelations. The rest of the lyrics are supplied by artists that have been ripping mics for years such as Sean Price, AZ, Cappadonna and M.O.P.
This album is essentially a follow-up to 2009′s Wu-Tang Chamber Music, which followed the same format and will have RZA reprising his role as executive producer. That is good news to fans of the Clan, as it ensures “That Wu-Tang sound”. The album may as well have been called Ghostface n friends since he dominates the tracklisting while sounding pissed off and inspired. At least I get one of my three favorite members.
Hip-Hop and Wu-Tang fans need and expect their fix so let’s keep our fingers crossed…our thumbs of course, so we can form our “W“s.
Track 1. Start the Show - Raekwon and RZA-
“For money, I assassinate…Today I have an opponent that’s worthy” begins the kung-fu sample from the appropriately titled opening track. A funky bassline and some uptempo drums compliment some grimy sounding horns. Great way to set the tone for the album including some Wu-Tang chants as the beat winds down. Lyrically, Raekwon sounds as smooth and confident as ever. The RZA comes strong as well and they both have a bit of a political vibe to their verses. Click here to listen.
2. Laced Cheeba - Ghostface Killah ft. Sean Price & Trife Diesel-
Banging beat with more kung-fu samples. Big Ghost comes out strong.
“Fierce, I travel across the seas on glaciers,
4 shoguns that got fucked by geishas.
Still gracious, still able to twist out thoughts.
Just grew tougher skin from swimming with them sharks”
Then in typical Ghostface fashion he blasts off and rhymes about polar bears, sharkskin Air Max’s, overcooked rice and Mrs. Dash. Sean Price follows up with his trademark rugged, smooth and funny flow. He has one of the better voices in the game and he warns, “Rap dudes get smacked off your skateboard for not paying your rap dues”. Trife Diesel aka Trife Da God delivers as well. I heard him first on the Pretty Toney album and he was as good as I remembered, “A golden boy to promote and write/sort of like an ill De La Hoya fight”.
3. Diesel Fluid – Method Man & Cappadonna ft. Trife Diesel-
A smooth, street tale-type beat that sounds like it could have been on a Ghostface album. I may only be saying that on the familiarity of Trife da God doing the chorus as he has for Ghost. Meth kicks off the track right when the keyboards come in and he kills it. He starts off eating cereal and watching The Smurfs cartoons, then delves into lyrics about his fucked up neighborhood, while ending with some hood talk-
“I hit the block hard, Timberlands is scuffed up.
No justice in the system, look around, it’s just us.
They tell me only God can judge us,
but they ain’t ever met Judge Kuffner.
I’m looking at this cracker on the bench,
don’t understand, I only sold crack to pay the rent.
But that’s possession with intent.”
Trife has a strong verse as well. A few good quotables, while his voice fits this beat best out of the three. Cappadonna is never talked about as much I feel he should be as he, “Moves in and out of states like drugs and garbage.” More from the cab driver-
“My high school homies sold crack, through songs.
You can’t get right through the team like two wrongs.
Mad criminal minded cream motherfuckers.
Type of subliminal rhyme scheme muthafuckers.”
4. The Black Diamonds-Ghostface Killah ft. Roc Marciano and Killa Sin-
I don’t care how much it seems like I’m sweating him. Ghost rapes this track in the face!
“Freedom of speech; watch how I reach my potential.
I stay on the hunt for dope tracks and instrumentals.
Traveled the world, found black diamonds in the Everglades.
Fought temptations, slapboxed in the devil’s cage.
The globetrotter, spot rusher,
I bust in your mouth like a gusher, it’s Wu-Tang motherfucker!
“Iron Man,” I cock my music in the chamber.
I’m God’s gift; heard I was born in a manger.
Danger! Cosmetic face rearrange you.
Leave you slumped on the chessboard, found by a park ranger.
Burst of adrenaline, bungee jumped off the Verrazano.
I sky dive in some sky blue Ferragamo’s.
Ran the streets heavy, kept my charms chunky.
You damn right I fuck fans and I keep the munchies.”
The track is very rape-able in his defense. The piano sounds like it was played by RZA on an early Wu album while more kung-fu samples are used as well. Roc Marciano and especially Killa Sin also represent. Listen here.
5. Played by the Game (Interlude)-
Just some eerie and dramatic sounds with an audio clip from the HBO Miniseries The Corner, of a man talking about how the game used to be.
6. Legendary Weapons-Ghostface ft. M.O.P. and AZ-
Hey guess what? Ghost ripped it. “Rocked that black n yellow before Wiz Khalifa. It’s the Killa Bees color scheme…been Ghostface before Scream”. One of the better beats on the album as well, kinda spacey and twangy. East Coast mainstays Lil Fame and Billy Danze (Dope voice!) of M.O.P. as well as AZ lend some braggadocious lyrics to the track.
7. Never Feel this Pain-Inspectah Deck & U-God ft. Tre Williams-
Very soulful. Tre Williams sings the chorus as the drums and a playful sounding piano move along perfectly. The lyrics are mainly about the struggle, life, and overcoming. Deck goes in first, followed by U-God, then Deck again. The Inspectah flexes his lyrical muscle for sure, but I think U-God stole the track. His voice and flow were perfect choices for this beat, plus his first few bars had a nice rhyme scheme.
8. Angels got Wings-(Interlude)-
A sample from some movie, with about 15-20 seconds of a dope beat in the end.
9. Drunk Tongue-Featuring Killa Sin-
A solo track from Killarmy’s most known MC. Fresh out of jail and dope as ever, he spits quickly, smoothly and with plenty of multi-syllabic rhymes. The beat sounds like one from Chamber Music, with some nice little horror movie noises chiming in. Killah Priest may be the best Wu-affiliate, but he’s closely shadowed by Killa Sin. If you’re a Wu-Tang fan, you’ve heard him all over their tracks for years as well.
10. 225 rounds-RZA, U-God, Cappadonna & Bronze Nazareth-
Another soulful beat, this one sounds more jazzy with horns and piano. U-God may have had the best verse lyrically, while I enjoy Bronze’s smooth flow as much as I enjoy his production. Cappadonna had a long and inspired verse, while RZA ended the song in sage-like fashion. Listen here.
“Meditating, never jealous, over zealous.
Wu-Tang Clan’s my fellowship, fans massive acapellas
of our lyrics, would be with tracks embelishes.
The idea clearer that Wu-Tang’s Forever.
This way of life is art, rhymes and cleverness.
Enjoying by God, no man could sever this”
11. Meteor Hammer-Ghostface ft. Action Bronson and Termanology-
This beat manages to sound funky, grimey, jazzy and dark at the same time. No chorus, just straight lyrics from three real lyricists. Rising star Action Bronson has the best line,”I was born to rep/ you fuckin with a hornet’s nest/ Old shooters in the corner like Hornacek.” I had never heard of him, but he’s funny and was or is a cook in N.Y. He has cooking shows and songs all over the internet with titles of random old athletes and food. Listen here.
12. Live through Death (Interlude)-
“The way of the true samurai is the ability to live through death”. Short kung fu sample over haunting beat.
13. Only the Rugged Survive-RZA-
Rza solo track which was also released as a single. A funny, metaphoric street tale of spitting lyrics and bullets at a Wu hater that has a bunch of money and jewelry in his safe. Bobby Digital turned back to Bobby Steels for this one as he and his “Wild cousin Billy” kicked down his door and handled the hater and his girl.
Short ending with a typical epic movie, violin-like buildup effect.
Legendary Weapons has less skits than Chamber Music and none of those RZA philosophical speaking tracks, so there is more music to be heard. Chamber Music had stronger guests however. There is nothing flashy here, just hard beats mixed with five percenter and street jargon. Fans waiting for the next Wu-Tang Clan album will feel somewhat satisfied by this album. Wu-Tang stayed in their comfort zone with classic samples, and Asian-influenced sounds. Meanwhile, there have been a slew of other recent Wu solo work and side projects to hold you down until their rumored May 2012 album.