1997 was a somber year for hip hop. Mainly because of the fact that the Notorious B.I.G. was killed during the early part of that year. Biggie’s death left a huge void into the music world and it heavily affected the direction hip hop was going. When Biggie died, It seemed the hardcore element of hip hop went with it as Puffy emerged to save his sinking ship of a label and became the king of modern hip hop. Introducing the Shiny Suit era where rappers put down their timbs, army fatigues in favor for champagne, big parties, big limosuines and glorfiance of the good life.
When Puffy set the mark. Many of his peers went with the flow as most of the releases consisted of nothing but sampling pop tunes, rhyming about how much money you have and not focusing on the harsh realities. Many hardcore rap acts(Mainly the West Coast) got thrown in the backburner because the Industry seen the mark Puff set and wanted to cash in.
The Wu Tang Clan were seen as “saviors for real hip hop” . This would be the group’s first real album since 1993 and there were alot of anticipation based around it. Many thought the Wu like many other groups would have brokened up by now.
As for the album. I’d have to say this much: If Wu-Tang Forever would have been released around this time, Heads would have called it an instant classic because this is a GREAT followup album to what many would consider a mindblowing debut. Many wondered if the masses were still ready to hear some hardcore shit from the Wu. I’m not gonna lie, I was disappointed within the first few listens because I was expecting a part 2 to Return of the 36 Chambers
The raw gritty feel that were on previous Wu Tang albums isn’t as present as before on here,The Kung Fu and dirty samples that RZA used on the classic albums of the past were mostly gone aside from a few tracks and replaced with a more cleaner sonic based sound. Method Man, Raekwon, and Ghost were featured on more tracks(Possibly because they sold more records) and there were less tracks featuring Deck, GZA, Masta Killa and Dirty. But with those minor complaints aside, Compared to most of what was released at the time(which was mostly commercial stuff) This was one the best albums to come out in 1997.
Lyrically The Clan Members of course come off much stronger lyrically and showcased more of a growth this time around. The album’s first track Reunited showing that the Clan was at the time Unified and weren’t going anywhere. Heaven sake is vintage RZA as all the underrated members of the Clan get their shine on, Masta Killa with his slow understandable style of rhyming steals the show with a very insightful verse.
Theres alot of dope songs on the first disc so that makes it more superb, You also have Cash Still Rules which is basically a sequel to C.R.E.A.M. featuring Method Man, Raekwon and a standout performance from Ghostface Killah who stepped up his Rap Game on this album and straight up blazed the joint and completely blacked out. Visionz which is the next track is where Method Man shines the brightest, To all those critics who think Method Man has sold out or came soft at the time needed to hear this verse.
For all those fans who still want to check out some more of the GZA VERSES You dont have to look further than the next track because he outshines U God and Rza, especially when he’s lyrically brutalizing garbage emcees on Severe Punishment with sick lines like:
Cause a jam without a live MC isn’t enough So we attack this, and grab all within reach Throw a scrap back to niggaz – perfect your own speech Shit is copper, it ain’t worth the mic stands used by backup singers in Atlantic City bands
The Clan has always put out nice songs for the women and Cappadonna seems to fit perfect for these type of songs. Donna lyrically kills it on Maria which is a story about this
I’m probably one of the few cats that felt that Disc 2 was more superior than Disc 1 because Disc 2 is jam-packed with much more heaters. The Trumph(which features a nice intro of RZA going on his mad rapper tip about the rap game) is a certified hip hop classic as it featured ALL 9 of the Clan.
The album does have its heart-felt moments as they tackle the struggles that goes on into the black community. Everything from Poverty, Violence, death, and diseases are addressed in songs such as Projects, A Better Tommorow, Lil Ghetto Boy and Impossible which one of Ghostface’s best performances of his career.
The other half of the 2nd disc has the Clan going back to basic and showcasing their skills and letting rappers know that their united and show no love to wack rappers. The MGM has a very hot concept where Ghost and Raekwon are talking about scrapping. The back and forth between Ghost shows that their chemistry is up there with Dre and Snoop. Mix that along with he crowd background noises and the rings of a ringbell bring a visual that a fight is really occurring.
Dog Shit is Ol Dirty Bastards solo joint on here and shows why he may have been one of the most charismatic figures in rap. He brought a certain element to the Wu that can never be duplicated
Duck Season is a pretty good song where Meth, Rae and RZA throw their lyrical darts come off sharp lyrically but its Hellz Wind Staff thats much more sicker. The Kung Fu samples were present on here and the beat has this dark up tempo feel to it. INS and Ghostface literally wrecked this track
Overall This is one of the best albums to have dropped in 1997, I felt that this album was released ahead of his time. Proved that despite the forever changing rap climate that Wu Tang will always have their deserved spot.
Vic rating: 9.0 outta 10