This week, the DX editorial staff picks the most Slept-On tracks from Wu-Tang Forever in honor of Drake’s ode to the Shaolin Rap outfit.
Wu-Tang Forever – “A Better Tomorrow”
1997’s “A Better Tomorrow” continues to be as relevant and appropriate as ever in 2013. For the same reasons that Kendrick Lamar had one of the more powerful singles of last year with “Swimming Pools (Drank),” “A Better Tomorrow” shines with a message. The hook lets you know, in no uncertain terms, what the track is about. “You can’t party your life away / Drink your life away / Smoke your life away / Fuck your life away / Dream your life away / Scheme your life away / ‘Cause your seeds grow up the same way.” The song is filled with life lessons and wise words from Wu-Tang, as well as some obscenities and Wu-isms. Without being too preachy, the song is one of that told Wu-Tang followers to be better, to do better, to live better. It also brought to light the importance of influence on the next generation. In a week where Drake used the title of this album as the title of a song, their influence is quite apparent. Hopefully the track’s title allows listeners to discover more of Wu-Tang Clan’s discography to continue finding jewels necessary for the seeds. – Andres Tardio (@AndresWrites)
Wu-Tang Forever – “Visionz”
The opening cuts on “Visionz” are brilliant. Inspectah Deck grabbed the drums and reversed them so every scratch sounded like the swishing of a sword. It’s the only song on Wu-Tang Forever that wasn’t produced by either the RZA or 4th Disciple, so the sound is fundamentally different from the crux of the project. That’s not to say it doesn’t fit; it just feels more…unique. “Apocalypse now / mind over matter, next batter be Tical,” Method Man barks over the threatening production. The song functions like a cypher. There’s no hook, just straight spittin’. Raekwon follows, and just hovers slightly over the beat so it sounds like the track came straight off a mixtape. As Masta Killa’s verse slides in, he assumes the role of the elder statesman (like he did on most collective Wu tracks), rapping in his scholarly yet commanding cadence. Inspectah Deck feels the most comfortable on the beat (he produced it after all), while Ghostface Killah plays clean-up. The result is a track that could never live on the radio, but is such a testament to the chemistry Wu-Tang Clan had in the studio back then. Rumor has it each member would jump in on the beat and the best bars were kept. That’s exactly how this track feels; like each of the lucky participants brought their best bars forward and took an album cut to the next level. – Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
Wu-Tang Forever – “Reunited”
The opening salvos from Genius/GZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard get the Wu-Tang Clan’s second album off to a powerful start. Genius’ rhymes pull from his scholarly pursuits as well as his role as one of the Clan’s spokesmen. In one of his few performances on the LP, the typically animated ODB raps, “You scared, runnin’ ’round like a plane about to crash.” It’s striking and unfortunate imagery, hallmarks of the late rapper’s most memorable work. RZA steps up next with a dense passage that sets the table for Method Man’s remarkable, song-closing, punchline-filled manifesto. Tical twists references to Agent Orange, cocaine and cheap wine into a vivid verse that highlights Meth’s top-tier lyrical dexterity. “Reunited” concludes with a riveting violin and string performance that lasts nearly two minutes and is the first of its kind on a Rap album of such significance. “Reunited” and it felt so good. – Soren Baker (@SorenBaker)