After years of deadening inner turmoil, the Wu-Tang Clan appears to have gotten its swag back. 2007’s aimless 8 Diagrams was a wash, but Method Man’s rowdily enjoyable Blackout! 2 and Raekwon’s gravely potent Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II were enough to restore the Wu brand in ’09. With Wu-Massacre, the group’s three most extolled, exciting, and inventive characters -- Meth, Rae, and critical fave Ghostface Killah -- attempt to capitalize on their newfound fortune by doing precisely what they do best: direct, gritty, sample-heavy raps. Wu-Tang forever is right.
Particularly memorable is “Our Dreams,” a brisk little track that rides a sample of Michael Jackson’s mid-’70s classic “We’re Almost There.” The song’s gooey tenderness (“We melt like cookies and cream,” asserts Ghost) is nothing original, but that beat radiates so magnetically that content hardly matters. On the sultry throwback “Pimpin’ Chipp,” Ghost delivers more of the tangled storytelling that makes him the best lyricist in New York City. Likewise, “Criminology 2.5” thumps even more authoritatively than the original, and is perhaps the only street-rap narrative in history to reference Bill Belichick.
There are a few slip-ups. “Meth vs. Chef Part II” sounds like RZA at his most abrasively experimental, and a skit featuring Tracy Morgan falls flat. (Tracy, I think you’ve promoted Cop Out and Death at a Funeral enough, amigo.) Nevertheless, you can’t help but smile when Streetlife barks, “I refuse to bow down!” on “Smooth Sailing (Remix).” Provided that these three continue to churn out succinct, satisfying records, why should they bow down?
Over the last 10 years, Ghostface Killah, Method Man and Raekwon have done most of the heavy lifting with regard to carrying the Wu-Tang legacy. Sure, RZA has been busy--doing sountracks, acting, writing--but when it comes to spitting 36 Chambers-caliber bars, Ghost, Meth and Rae are your go-to Killah Bees. It's only fitting then that these three would, in Wu parlance, form like Voltron for Wu Massacre, a record that blurs the lines between a solo record and a full-fledged Wu-Tang Clan release. On the heels of strong performances from all three MCs on last years' Cuban Linx 2, Wu-Massacre probably--if you'll allow me one more cheap reference--ain't nothing to fuck wit.
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