Now, don’t get me wrong. I want to make it clear from the start that I have a lot of love for the Wu-Tang Clan. They shaped my hip hop youth and gave me hours and hours of entertainment, tirelessly researching (before the Google days) various indecipherable Shaolin slang and garment references. As a group they have produced some of the most creative and progressive hip hop music, pushing the boundaries in production and (during their early days) independent music management and distribution. But in 2011, the Clan’s latest release Legendary Weapons, which serves as the follow-up to last year’s Chamber Music, sounds solid yet dated.
On first impression, the most striking element of this collection of slightly lackluster tracks was the lack of names which you usually find littered on this type of ‘Wu compilation’. There was a reduction in appearances from the Clan affiliates/Wu minions spraying lukewarm, nonsensical verses, which I feel can only be a good thing. Instead, you’ll find strong appearances from an energetic Ghostface, giving his regular brand of God-knowledge and flamboyant banter. Relative newcomer, Action Bronson also shines with a strong verse which confirmed my belief that his flow and lyrical content sounds strangely like the Wu’s Tony Starks.
Stand out tracks for me were the classic-sounding Wu head-nodder “Laced Cheeba“, which features Ghostface, Sean Price and Trife Diesel all laying verses over the Noah Rubin & Lil’ Fame (M.O.P) produced beat. A solid sounding track that could have come out 10 or 15 years ago, the plodding beat, the Kung Fu movie samples, you know the coup. “Diesel Fluid” (featuring Method Man, Trife Diesel and Cappadonna) was also a mild favorite of mine. The Rubin & Fame production duo collaborate again to provide that textbook, year 2000 Wu sound some eleven years later.
In conclusion, Legendary Weapons is what happens in music when you over extend your brand. It becomes tired and dated. This album is proof that the Wu-Tang flag still flies, there’s just a little less wind in the air.