In happier hip-hop news, four years of solo excursions apparently haven't hurt the Wu-Tang Clan's appeal. They reunite at the top of the "Billboard" chart on Monday, with their new double album, "Wu-Tang Forever." Despite its two disc price, the ablum sold more the 600,000 copies in its first week of release, as did two other recent smash rap doubles by Tupac Shakur and Norotious B.I.G. Unlike them, however, the members of the Wu-Tang Clan aren't dead -- in fact, they're going to tour this summer. Let's catch up.
RZA: You can skip summer school this year. Buy the "Wu-Tang Forever" CD and you will learn.
RAEKWON: It's like, if I was a athlete, I would get a sneaker this year.
RZA: It's good for hip-hop. It's like fresh food, you know what I mean? It's like fresh, steamed vegetables.
U-GOD: Spread it out, mix it all up, stir it up... It's heavy.
RAEKWON: All I can say is, whoever get the album, and you driving, put your seatbelt on!
Four years, one ground-breaking record, five successful solo albums, and numerous break-up rumors later, the Wu-Tang Clan is back in action.
INSPECTAH DECK: If you followed Wu-Tang, we went through a lot of childhood relations in the industry and in our own personal lives. So now, it's like coming back, we come to show like, that's making us stronger.
METHOD MAN: Everybody played their part, bottom line. Everybody played their position in this whole Wu-Tang scheme. We a machine that work better together.
RAEKWON: It doesn't matter to us who gets on the track, 'cause it's like, everybody got a job, and they know when they get on that rhyming list, when they start rhyming, you gotta get in where you fit in, my brother.
METHOD MAN: When you deal with them power ranges, it's like, they all by themself. But when they come together, it's bottom line.
MTV: "Wu-Tang Forever" has enough pop culture references and Kung Fu samples to prove the guys have
kept a collective hand on the remote. But the group has also significantly widened and deapened its world view.
GHOSTFACE KILLAH: It's not the same since '93 when we first came through. You could tell that we wasn't amateurs to the game, but to the world. We was new. So now, when you really catch this Wu-Tang CD, it's like we advanced tremendously.
RZA: The average black man in America is not expected to live over 25. We all making it past that. It's telling about and inscribing what life's about. It's not all about being in that four block radius project, shooting back and forth, at each other with nothing to go on, nothing to motivate yourself, nothing to motivate the babies with.
GHOSTFACE KILLAH: We don't say nothing about no guns in there. We just want you to hear our talent and how we gonna give it to the world.
RZA: So lyrically, we grew. We been around the world, we seen many things, we tasted many foods, many wines, many women, many ideas.
INSPECTAH DECK: You gotta be un-industrialized when you crack that CD open. You can't be looking for who produced this -- you know what I mean? -- who's the executive producer behind that... Just listen to the joint, man.
Wu-Tang Clan launch a U.S. tour in August with Rage Against The Machine -- that should be something to see.