One of the things I find strange about musical collectives – especially collectives with multiple vocalists – is what the vocalists get out of it. This is somehow my first ever Wu Tang record – I have heard multiple solo records by members, though – and I had no idea how many rappers are in the group. And one thing I can’t help but wonder while listening is “Why?” Some of them barely get time on this hour-long record.
So I really don’t know what I’m doing here and it’s pretty absurd of me to review this album first, rather than their first two. (That’s something I seem to always end up doing but it feels particularly weird with a group that puts out so few albums and was so fundamental to ’90s hip hop.) But, here we are.
RZA’s production is as distinct and inimitable as ever. You could argue it’s the only unifying thing on the album and I wouldn’t disagree. I have always liked RZA’s production, though I only know a few things he’s done, but I don’t know if it’s enough here.
There are a few big guests here which only further sideline members of the group. I care a fair deal about authorship of records – I like to hear the voice of the artist or the group – and this record is one of the most confusing to me in that sense. There are so many voices and so many of them come in for just a little bit. It feels like a collection of tracks, some of which might belong on the same album, and some of which definitely do not.
I really don’t know what to do with it but I take it that the fans don’t love this record and I’m inclined to side with them over the sales and the critics, both of which suggest it’s a good album.