Wu-Tang Clan’s latest album, The Saga Continues, brings back the essence that made them so great — Shaolin shadowboxing, and the Wu-Tang sword style. From Method Man to Inspectah Deck, RZA to GZA, Ghostface to Raekwon, Wu-Tang Clan once towered above every phony New York rap group in cutthroat fashion. Ever since 36 Chambers, and the turn of the century however, Wu-Tang’s output as a group has been largely disappointing. The biggest Wu-Tang news in the last ten years barely qualifies as a music discussion, with convicted felon Martin Shkreli claiming to own the only copy of an unreleased Wu album that doesn’t even feature most core members. It was safe to say, most of us assumed Wu-Tang’s golden days were long gone, trapped in the 90s with skits of Method Man comparing the hip-hop posse to Voltron the transformer, but as the album title suggests, their saga continues….
The core members most heavily featured on the group’s latest project include Method Man and RZA (who each have a couple songs entirely to themselves), as well as Raekwon and Ghostface Killah. The only original members to not make an appearance on the album are ODB and U-God. Mathematics handled the production on all 17 tracks, carefully piecing together an old-school vibe with sampled beats and a lot less samurai innuendo than usual.
“Lesson Learn’d” kicks off the tracklist in spectacular fashion., Inspectah Deck drops slights at Martin Shkreli while Redman throws down a time-honored, melody absent hook over the jangly beat. “Frozen” stands out as well, with Method Man running the track like an absolute villain before the snares drop and the bassline grooves while Raekwon and Ghostface Killah handle hook duty, making it arguably the best Wu-Tang song produced in the last ten years.
RZA’s verse on “Why Why Why” unveils some interesting imagery on police violence and pointless killing, as well as a more modern hook that contrasts well with RZA’s gravely voice. While not the most original or fresh take on that subject, it’s interesting to hear Wu-Tang members add their voice to the conversation. And Method’s opening lines on “G’d up” are nothing short of genius. They’re filled with triple end rhymes and alliteration galore as he spits in his grimy New York style over a slightly ill-fitting, autotuned hook.
Front to back, The Saga Continues stands as the best Wu-Tang Clan project since Wu-Tang Forever. Method Man and RZA rap heavily with ruthless precision behind every line, and the few features from guys like GZA and Redman are a nice homage to the good old days of Wu-Tang/Killer Bees. In a sense, the Clan sounds like they were teleported straight from ‘93, killing every feature effortlessly over dark, brooding instrumentals without a care in the world. Not bad for a bunch of dudes in their late 40s.
Check out the full album below.