[Commentary] Gabe Ranks The Wu-Tang Clan Albums
This week on Vocalo, 90.7fm we have been celebrating the 20 years of the Wu-Tang Clan sound. Below I ranked the Wu-Tang Clan’s group albums from worst to best. Wednesday we’ll be discussing the list on The Music Vox program that starts at 6p on Vocalo.Org. Let’s go.
– 8 Diagrams (2007)
After a loooooong wait for the Clan to come back after a 6 year hiatus, the Rza dropped the ball on this one and left plenty of people pissed including Clan members who publicly bashed the album only days after its release. Expecting the group that was not to be f##ked with, we instead received a collection of introspective, mellowed out, and less than inspiring raps and beats that was polar opposite from what everybody had hoped for. If you slept on this album, you didn’t miss much, so continue on.
– The W (2000)
3 years removed from the Double LP that left the world excited, the Clan reunited after a tumultuous 3 years that saw the strength of the Clan begin to waver. Reunited with no plan but to generate some momentum for the crew that was aging and quickly falling behind the times, the crew dropped The W to reaffirm their status and rank. The first video and single, Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off) delivered with all members getting a piece of the Rza track, just like the original PYN. This would be the first Wu-Tang album to feature non-Wu-Tang Clan artists including Redman, Snoop and Busta Rhymes. I can say I was not happy about that then and not happy about it now. But needless to say, there are plenty of bangers on the W including the Masta Killa solo, One Blood Under The W. Although this album is pretty great from top to bottom, a year later the Clan would be a lot sharper when dealing with tragedy.
-Iron Flag (2001)
The events of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center affected the Wu-Tang Clan immensely as to why the Clan probably bounced back so quickly for another group album. The uptempo, high bpm production most certainly surprised me but the balance was the seriousness that the Clan approached those records with. Ghostface famously says “who the f@@k knocked our buildings down..” on Rules and Gza “kept the rhyme as fly as the shot” on Babies. The pop and commercial team The Trackmasters even made an appearance here and what does the Clan do? Body the track with Isley Brothers legend Ronald Isley, what more can you say? The crew was precisely on point for this much under appreciated album. ODB and Cappadonna would go absent on Iron Flag, but the best collective work from the Clan in the 21st century can be found here.
-Wu-Tang Forever (1997)
Not #1 because well the Wu-Tang Clan did more with more. The double album that is Wu-Tang Forever cemented the Clan’s position as the crew that didn’t cross over but made radio, video and print cross over to them. Not selling themselves short for commercial success, Wu-Tang Forever delivered and help feed the babies for the summer of 1997. The lead single, Triumph could not have come at a more perfect time, on the heels of the passing of the Notorious BIG, the east coast was shaken by his loss, and what did the Clan do? Put New York on their backs and Bombed atomically for over a 100 minutes of music. ODB was scarcely featured, which was a let down, Methodman showed why he was one of the best emcees in hip hop, Ghost & Rae fed more fuel to the discussion of who the best duo in hip hop was, and unsung heroes like Inspectah Deck finally got a chance to shine. The first disc is much stronger than the second disc which leads me to doubt if WTF is stronger than….
-Enter The Wu-Tang (36 chambers) (1993)
There are no doubts. Enter The Wu-Tang is not to be f##ked with under no circumstance. The 9 man team never sounded more hungry then they do on their 1993 debut. The hardcore but lyrical prowl each member carried made them undeniable to ignore and when CREAM was released as a single, the hip hop culture shifted. Quite possibly the only commercially recognizable single the Clan has to date, CREAM gave the Clan its commercial smash and gave passage for The Rza to continue on his 5 year plan. Sure Protect Ya Neck and Can It Be.. are all dope songs and deserving of their moment under the sun, but CREAM is… well CREAM! The introduction to Kung-Fu samples, aliases, intellectual fortitude wrapped around The Rza’s ridiculous drum kit and ear for soul samples makes this album the creme de la de creme in the Wu-Tang discography. I dare you to convince me otherwise.
-Gabe Mendoza (@WeekendGabe)