Bring Da Ruckus!
Wu-Tang Clan is an East Coast hip hop group that was formed in the '90s. They had 9 members, each with their own distinct and unique personality and lyrical style. There's RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and Ol' Dirty Bastard, who unfortunately died in 2004. Together, they revolutionized East Coast hip hop and became a very influential group through their unique sound and brought more competition to the "East Coast vs. West Coast" hip hop rivalry.
Basically, how this group formed was that RZA liked Shaolin and Wu-Tang fighting movies. People agreed with him, and that's how they made a rap group. True story.
Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was released in 1993 and was produced by RZA, showing his very distinct sound through minimalist beats and interesting Shaolin film samples. What's great about this album and group in general is that, in contrast to the West Side's heavily produced, focused beats, like in the music of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, RZA forces a very small amount of production, allowing the songs to be vocal-fronted and focus more on the members' styles.
Unfortunately, unlike Dr. Dre's debut album The Chronic, which still sounds fresh today, many of the tracks in Enter the Wu-Tang feel outdated in their beats and sound design. It takes a little while to get used to how lyrical-fronted this album is; it really requires a lot of attention to listen to it since you can't really enjoy it otherwise.
The album doesn't use gimmicky or crazy, attention-grabbing instrumentals and beats, and it is driven by how well the group members present their lyrics and how aggressive they make them sound. Fortunately for the Wu-Tang Clan, they executed the lyrics perfectly and it completely compensates for how outdated the beats sound today.
One of my favorite things about this album is the members' lyrical styles. Each one has a very distinct lyrical style and it is easy to notice who is currently rapping.
For example, Ol' Dirty Bastard brings a really unique rapping style, combining singing with really strange rhymes and aggressiveness--you can't really predict what he's going to do next. People like GZA and Method Man have a great rhyming scheme throughout the entire album as well.
Ghostface Killah brings a really loud, fast, emotional, and passionate rhyming style. While the majority of the members incorporate a slight Mafia style and Shaolin slang along with their own type of slang in their lyrics, Raekwon has the most Mafia-like influence in his lyrics, such as references to famous mobsters, crime, drugs, luxury, etc.
Pretty much every single song in this album is my favorite song. "Tearz" has to be one of the top tracks, though. It transitions from upbeat and aggressive lyrics to a really dark and depressing setting with two stories being told and the lyrics featuring people who are really close to each other dying. The end verse "So after the laughter, I guess comes the tears" hits especially hard, showing that good things come to an end eventually.
The only song that I didn't like that much was the last song, "Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber (Part II)." It wasn't a very creative song compared to the others on the album. It's essentially the "Clan in Da Front" chorus from GZA with "Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber" remixed with different beats and instrumentals. It's nothing different, no new lyrics or anything, besides a short little interview at the end that follows up from the one in "Can It Be All So Simple."
It's an okay way to end the album, but it does feel like filler. Instead of making a new song, or putting the bit of interview in "Tearz," they just remixed two previous songs together and slapped it onto the end. In my opinion, they could have ended the album much better than this. That being said though, it's only one song out of the 11 classics they have. A minor annoyance, but still an annoyance.
To Sum It Up
In conclusion, if you want to hear a very influential hip hop album that spawned a new generation of '90s hip hop sound, then this is a fantastic album. Even if you don't like hip hop, give it a try. RZA became one of the most influential MCs and producers out there, even outside of hip hop. For me, however, I would give this album a 9.5/10. You know this is just my opinion, right?!
Ryan Dang is a teen volunteer for the Pacifica Sharp Park Library.