A fierce warrior grips a tri-sectional stick high above his head. His eyes are like sharp black holes and visible strength ripples through his bulging muscles. His stance is that of a whooping crane ready to fly as he balances with ease on one leg, encircled by a blazing inferno. He is eerily calm. Mind over body. Prepared for combat.
That is the scene on the album cover for Wu-Chronicles (Loud/RCA), the Wu-Tang Clan’s latest album. The picture captures the mind and spirit that embody Wu-Tang.
Taking their group’s name from a mythical kung fu sword used by invincible warriors, the nine members of the Wu-Tang Clan are apprentices of the Shaolin (mental) aspect of martial arts. They are believers in the Islamic faith and die-hard fans of kung fu flicks, many of which are featured on the group’s album covers.
Since 1991, Wu-Tang Clan has developed a unique, surreal sound within the arena of hip-hop. Its sounds include innovative hard-core beats, supernatural samples and uncanny piano riffs.
Wu-Chronicles is a great addition to any Wu-Tang fan’s collection, featuring a compilation of hard-to-find previously released tracks. In addition, the album contains two new songs – “Lutunza Hit,” featuring the Wu-Syndicate, and “96 Recreation,” featuring the Rza and Cappa Donna.
The album’s highlights include “Cold World,” on which D’Angelo provides background vocal, and “Tragedy.” Both singles clearly represent the cold reality and harsh struggles of gang wars, drugs, violence and unwarranted death.
The album’s finest cut is the 1994 hit “The What,” which includes collaborations from the late Notorious B.I.G. and Method Man. Their lyrical skills spill into each other like the powerful rush of a waterfall, displaying an awesome commanding chemistry. The album’s poorest track is “Hip Hop Drunkies” in which O.D.B and the Alkaholiks make fools of themselves with terrible lyrics and unbearable beats.
Overall, Wu-Chronicles is high quality. The Wu-Tang Clan has managed to remain consistent with its music, which is uncommon in today’s hip-hop/rap world.