Wednesday, 11 March 2009



 So this is it, the long awaited, muchly anticipated and thought never to be made 5th 

Wu Tang clan studio album, and here I am finally holding it in my hand, as much as I 

have been anticipating this release I have an air of nervousness about me as I slip the 

CD into my Mac. These soon to be unfounded tensions were brought on by rumours 

of unrest in camp Wu Tang, with Ghostface Killah and Raekwon publicly voicing 

concerns over RZA’S production before anyone had heard a single beat, this 

combined with the death of the both notorious and significant member ODB the man 

who stuck it all together the Wu glue if you will, it did not look plain sailing on the 

good ship Wu. So wrongly there was a slight preconceived feeling of disappointment 

before I had heard a note.

You may indeed call me a Doubting Thomas and you would have a strong case, 

because thankfully I was wrong. I really enjoyed this album as a whole album, yes it’s 

different than previous 4, with their big handfuls of stand-alone tracks. Here though, 

there are no obvious singles, but to me a more soulful offering, with a lot more sang 

vocals than in there previous outings, this is nowhere near as rough as 36 chambers, 

but was it ever going to be, if you are expecting that then you have to realise that this 

is 15 years later and that rugged recorded in a smoke filled basement sound which 

was what the first album was all about is not going to stick anymore. The Wu and in 

particular the RZA’s production style have matured like a fine wine and it shows, 

with an overall deeper sound and feel. Maybe triggered by the loss of ODB and the 

fragmented state of the clan .You can feel the atmosphere of loss and discontent. Yes 

its all still there, the old Kung Fu movies samples and sampled strings that have been 

dedicatingly tracked down and dug out, yes the beats and the detail are sophisticated, 

but it’s more than that, 8 Diagrams shows what the Wu-Tang do best …rhyme, and 

boy do they rhyme. These boys are all over these tracks like the NY immigration 

department on anyone with a beard. And that’s the point there styles compliment and 

highlight each other, the smoothness and flow of Method man followed by the 

aggressive styling of Ghostface Killah and Inspectah deck. Spitting metaphors back 

and forth like some kind of audio badminton with the rhymes gliding gracefully to 

and fro over the beats. There are two tracks on this album that stand out for me, are 

with its powerful strings ‘rushing elephants’ and the fantastic ‘wolves’ with the 

President of funk himself George Clinton on guest vocals. The latter is a wild west 

adventure that is a lesson to all budding hip hop producers on how to use samples, its 

perfect, and trust me I do not take that statement lightly but RZA has a way to balance 

his styles, and with the almost eerie loop on this track the ‘Wuuuuuuuuuuuuu-

aaaaaaaaaa’ sound (how else do you expect me to demonstrate it) which is the spine 

in which all the beats and samples attach themselves to give this beast of a record its 


Those who are familiar with the Wu tang know that these are not individual albums 

the Wu philosophy connects all of them like one big puzzle with references and 

metaphors connecting all there ventures through ancient Chinese philosophies with 

urban connotations relaying a guide to life and spirituality, I mean how many other 

hip hop acts have released a book of philosophy based on numerical patterns through 

life!! (I am not making this up)

Other collaborators include Erykah Badu guesting on the heart-felt ode to Old dirty 


We are all going to miss ODB even though I’m sure there is a catalogue of unused 

recording of him ‘a la’ every other dead rapper out there but it’s the live feel he gives 

to a track that will be surely missed. Even though ODB has gone let us not forget that 

the major players are still there RZA, GZA, Method man, Ghostface, U god, 

Inspectah deck and my personal favourite Raekwon doing what they do best and still 

sounding fresh. This album may be a bit tamer than before but it is still worth 

anybodies time who loves great hip hop and wants another piece of there Wu tang 

puzzle or if its your first time then just enlighten your soul. Shoalin style,

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