Pitching The Wu

With RZA, Ras Kass and Raekwon.

It had to happen sooner or later. As the Wu-Tang Clan empire has spawned

over a dozen related albums since the group first broke out in 1993, a

"best of" compilation seemed preordained. However, that's not exactly

what Wu-Chronicles is. While the compilation is approved by

Wu-Tang Records, there is a conspicuous dearth of so-called "classic"

Wu material on Chronicles. For example, there are no songs from

their seminal debut, Enter the Wu-Tang. Nor will you find tracks

from the Wu-Tang Forever double LP or anything from solo albums

by Ol' Dirty Bastard, Ghostface Killah or Method Man.

Instead, Wu-Chronicles is a hodgepodge of different tracks that

feature various Wu members, which results in a lack of cohesiveness when

the album is judged as a whole. Moreover, it seems suspiciously

coincidental that several of the songs include feature acts signed to

Priority Records (who now distribute Wu-Tang Records). The resulting

mishmash is of dubious quality, and one can't help but wonder if the

only reason this album was made was to capitalize on the value of the

Wu logo.

That's not to say that Wu-Chronicles is filled with flotsam.

There are some definite winners on this album, especially "Semi-Automatic:

Full Rap Metal Jacket", a superior selection from the soundtrack for

"High School High." "Semi-Automatic" is vintage Wu ferocity -- a chaotic

track of screaming keys and eccentric basslines over which U-God,

Streetlife and Inspectah Deck deliver furious rhymes. Also, "4th

Chamber," from the Genius' solo LP kicks off the album on a strong note

with its dissonant guitar riffs and bizarre electric noise-play. And in

case you forgot how good they sounded together, Wu-Chronicles

includes the unforgettable Notorious B.I.G./ Method Man duet, "The What,"

from B.I.G.'s Ready to Die debut.

Mediocre tracks include AZ's "Whatever Happened," featuring the RZA;

and the Ras Kass and RZA collaboration, "The End," a paranoia-driven

song more impressive on paper than on record. Much the same could be

said of "Young Godz," whose lineup of Shyheim, Madman, Rubbabands and

Killa Sin is barely redeemed by Raekwon's cameo. While there's no

out-and-out junk on Wu-Chronicles, there's plenty of forgettable

fare that mars the overall listening experience. If you're a die-hard

Wu fan, this might appeal to you, but for those looking for more of a

primer, you're better off buying Enter the Wu-Tang.

Movie & TV Awards 2018