Only four tracks on Wu-Tang Meets Indie Culture feature a total of a three core members of the Wu, and only one track is produced by the RZA and Mathematics each, but this compilation defies all odds by giving us truth in advertising. Here is the classic Wu-Tang sound combined with indie flows from some of the strongest underground emcees. Ras Kass, Del, Aesop Rock and Vast Aire do far more than phone in their performances, and the beats, primarily by lesser known Wu-affiliate Bronze Nazareth, are uniformly strong.
Pulled together by Dreddy Kruger, news of the project spread like wildfire over the Internet last summer only to have the buzz fizzle out before the album hit shelves. That's a shame, because there was more than enough fire here to keep it burning well into the new year. Both GZA/Ras Kass tracks are excellent, though "Verses" edges out "Lyrical Swords" with amazing flows from two emcees currently at the top of their game. "Slow Blues" has a great sticky beat, and "Still Grimy," a typical U-God street banger, pairs with it nicely.
The big-hype track is "Biochemical Equation," the lone RZA production. It gives us a collaboration between the Wu leader and MF Doom, whose performance is enjoyable but fails to stand out among the other guest spots. Del gives two very different performances, including an inspired pairing with Aesop Rock on "Preservation," which might be the album's strongest.
We're not in a Wu golden age like we were in the mid-'90s, when basically anything these guys put their name on was worth picking up. This probably accounts for the indifference to what would seem like a cheap cash-in release. Last year saw as many weak releases from the Wu camp, such as U-God's forgettable solo release Mr. Xcitement, as strong ones, such as GZA's collaboration with Muggs on Grandmasters. But if you approach with caution and do your research, each year consistently sees at least a couple essential titles for any Wu fan. Wu Tang Meets Indie Culture is one of these.
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