Wu-Tang Clan: Wu-Tang Forever Album Review

In the summer of 1997, the Wu-Tang Clan were in the middle of their mafia movie editing – you know, when life is sweet and it seems like it will always be that way. That summer, the nine Staten Island goons toured with one of the best rock bands on Earth, Rage Against the Machine, blowing cash and sipping champagne on planes. They secured a budget of $960,000 for the special effects-laden music video for “Triumph,” the famous reckless, hookless group cut. And at New Jersey’s Giants Stadium, the Wu headlined Hot 97’s Summer Jam, when the station was still a kingmaker. Yet, instead of kissing the ring, the Wu returned them.

“Fuck Hot 97, we listen to Kiss FM! is what Ghostface Killah shouted to the crowd that night, annoyed by the sound issues. He followed that uppercut with a haymaker, a flip on the station’s slogan – “Hot 97, where hip-hop dies!” – and finally got the audience to sing. Meanwhile, Method Man threw drums at DJ Big Dennis Rivera and Funkmaster Flex backstage. For years after, the station shut down the Wu, refusing to run their group or solo records. It would end up hurting them, but at that time, the Wus didn’t need the rap world – they had created their own.

Party records, big-budget samples, and sleek R&B hooks from Bad Boy’s shiny costume era were on the horizon, but in the years leading up to the summer of 1997, the Wu embarked on a storybook like no other band in rap history. . Since their instant debut in 1993 Enter the Wu-Tang (36 rooms) on a string of five solo albums between 1994 and 1996, a rowdy team of forgotten neighborhood rap purists had become mega-stars.

In 1997, the world of Wu was as deep and insular as professional wrestling. They have fully established their own mythology and language: remixed lingo from the Park Hill and Stapleton projects on Staten Island, an endless reservoir of aliases, nearly indecipherable internal references, and lyrics lined with allusions to kung movies. -fu, to the Five-Percenter ideology and to the specific ultra-geography of New York City. In June, the group met for the 36 Rooms follow Wu-Tang forever, with “Triumph” as the first single. The sprawling and gloriously messy double-disc album makes no concessions. It’s nearly two hours of bars soaked in the dump of Fresh Kills, dense pun, twisted humor that blurs the line between reality and fantasy told around the corner, and RZA’s relentlessly dark production with a refined twist. Naturally, they dethroned the Spice Girls for the #1 album in America, reaching the pinnacle of their popularity as a collective.