November 21, 2015

Wu-Tang Clan "The W" (Vibe, January 2001)

"Remember hip-hop? It was the sound of the streets - rough, rugged, raw, and real - in that you could feel it tickling your neckbone and making it snap. Hip Hop was like crack: The more you heard it, the more you wanted it. Such was the attraction of Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), the Wu-Tang grimy 1993 debut. In a climate of gangsta posing, the Wu rose from obscurity to steal the hearts of rap fans with their uncompromising brand of hardcore hip hop - reminiscent of rap from 1986-1998. They unleashed that unpolished sound from the basement, sprayed the Billboard charts with bullets, and became the darlings of the rap world.... On The W, Wu-Tang bring it back to the gutter, where it all began, serving up some good ol' New York hip hop in a way that on the Wu can. The W is a dense, demented, 15-song opus that will draw comparisons to the now classic 36 Chambers. One thing that sets this collection apart from practically every other Wu release since 1997, though, is the RZA, who produced the entire album. Whether it's the overmodulated bass shudder on "Let My N!ggas Live" or the offbeat organ riffing on "Redbull," RZA always introduces something different into the mic, layering his tracks like Duncan Hines. Also, while other producers appropriate whole keyboard demo tracks and call it live music, RZA's chops have greatly improved...."

"The guest list on this album also separates it from more recent Wu fare, Nas ("Let My N!ggas Live"), Redman ("Redbull"), reggae singer Junior Reid ("One Blood"), and legendary soul brother Isaac Hayes ("I Can't Go To Sleep") lend their lyrical support. The latter track is a six-minute reworking of Hayes' classic hit "Walk On By," featuring spoken-word vocal stylings by Ghostface Killah, RZA, and Hayes himself. But, in reality, this album belongs to the Clan, who are hungrier than ever on this effort. Redeeming himself from a disappointing second solo effort, Raekwon sounds like the pro we know on "Hollow Bones" ... This album goes against the grain of everything that's going on in rap right now. But if originality, innovation, and a mastery of the fundamentals of beats and rhymes still mean something to people, then The W stands for "winner." - Vibe, January 2001. Do you agree? Or nah?