Wu-Tang Clan: Legendary Weapons
R&B & Hip-Hop
As a group, the Wu-Tang Clan have never
really bettered their first album Enter
the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Upon release in 1993, it was immediately hailed
as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, and the subsequent eighteen
years has only served to prove that more right.
Weapons is another notch on the Wu-Tang belt, and opens with the suitably named ‘Start the
Show’; a fast-paced and aggressive funk-infused song with Wu Tang stalwarts RZA
‘Diesel Fluid’ marks Method Man’s only contribution
to the record, and is a mediator between hard raps and a chilled-out backing
track. ‘The Black Diamonds’ continues this style; its piano melodies are as
intrinsic to it as Ghostface Killah’s vocals on it are.
Ghostface Killah holds no punches on title
track ‘Legendary Weapons’, where he takes a pop at Wiz Khallifa as he proclaims
‘Rocked that black and yellow before Wiz Khallifa’ referring to the clan’s
self-appointed nickname: Killa Bees. He has apparently failed to appreciate
Khallifa’s bubble-gum version of hip-hop.
This project features several appearances
from members of the Wu-Yang Clan’s numerous but sporadic affiliate groups.
Killarmy’s Killa Sin carries ‘Drunk Tongue’ through two minutes of non-stop
rap, and for sheer intensity and lack-of-breath-taking; it’s one of the more
This is far from being even close to the
imperious best of the New York group, but there are still enough pinches of
class to remind you of how good they really are. The fourteen tracks of Legendary Weapons serve to weave into
the Wu-Tang Clan’s surreal world of soul and funk-looped samples, thought-stream verses, and martial arts
(almost every song opens with an insightful cut-and-pasted line from a dubbed
martial arts film). Lyrics range from the absurdly domestic to the
political; talk of smurfs and oil-doused hummus are nicely balanced with
President Obama’s policies and crack dealers.
It’s only right that chief of the clan RZA
would have the last track all to himself, and he continues the playful, almost
lazy lyrics as he opens ‘Only the Rugged Survive’ with: ‘Old sad ballads and
gun permits was invalid/ Raspberry vinegar, red dripped in spinach salad’.
Despite standing the test of time so
convincingly, they’ve never strayed from their gritty and aggressive sound, and
have never given in to fickle trends. They focus is and has always been their skillful
lyricism wordplay; there’s no humility or apology in it.
Their refusal to move into the twenty first
century is admirable, and the formula that has made them so influential
shouldn’t work. It does though; while there is nothing groundbreaking on Legendary Weapons, it will please
hardcore fans and casual listeners alike, and although it is seen as a stopgap
compilation before another major album next year, Legendary Weapons has given us our fix of Wu Tang until then.