Since taking the music industry by storm in the early ’90s with their strength-in-numbers approach to the game Wu-Tang Clan have cemented themselves in the category of best music collectives of all time.
The Wu empire has produced classic albums, monumental singles, video games, acting careers, iconic videos, a clothing line, numerous books, a logo as recognizable as most comic book superheroes and the uncanny ability to be both “Nuthin’ to F**k Wit’” and “For The Children” at the same time.
While the Wu’s dominance in the ’90s and early 2000s is undeniable, the last decade has been an odd time for the Staten Island crew. Starting with the death of ODB in 2004, the group has had some growing pains as various members have shifted their focus to other aspects of entertainment (RZA, Method Man), the few group projects that have been released have been met with mixed reactions (The Eight Diagrams in 2007 and A Better Tomorrow in 2014) and rumors of infighting within the core members about the artistic direction of the brand have run rampant.
The Saga Continues offers a version of Wu-Tang that is cohesive enough to remind fans of the Wu’s mid-90’s prime while updating the formula just enough to be relevant in 2017. The album is predominantly produced by Rza protégé Mathematics and most of the beats sound like vintage Wu-Tang complete with chopped piano loops, abrasive percussion and kung-fu movie samples. While it doesn’t compare to the unfiltered rawness of “36 Chambers” or the refined “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” the production is compelling and will keep longtime fans’ attention.
Like all Wu-Tang releases, this album will provoke the classic “Who had the best verses?” argument and somewhat surprisingly the clear winners are Method Man and Redman (not a member of Wu-Tang, but featured on multiple tracks). It’s not that the other clansmen don’t “Bring the Pain” (Get it?) like Meth, but his voice and flow matches perfectly with Mathematics’ production. The MC/Producer combo is so solid is seems logical that Mathematics should be heavily involved in the next Red/Meth collaborative project (it’s been almost a decade since “Blackout 2” so it’s probably about time to complete the trilogy). Other standout verses include Rza and Ghostface that prove that grown men can still body tracks.
Overall, The Saga Continues is a solid effort that every Wu fan should check out. There are a few missteps: too many skits, over reliance on nostalgia (the title, samples from past Wu projects), a handful of hooks that don’t really connect and a few cuts that could have been left out or saved for the Deluxe Version, but 90’s Hip-Hop heads don’t have that much to complain about as Wu-Tang Clan prove The Saga Continues…
Best Songs: Lessons Learn’d, Pearl Harbor, My Only One.
Perfect For: The train ride out to Staten Island.
Wu-Tang Clan – The Saga Continues Score: 7.5 out of 10