After nearly three years of speculation, conflicting information and frustrating delays, Wu-Massacre (click for DX’s snippet-tape) finally arrives to hungry Wu-Tang Clan fans everywhere. Shining the spotlight on Method Man, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, the Clan’s three most capable emcees (a reasonable individual might substitute GZA into that group), the album looks to be a sure thing – on paper. So the question remains: does Wu-Massacre deliver upon the promise of its billing?
The group project kicks off with a throwback: “Criminology 2.5” . It kicks in the door with a familiar beat but new ferocious rhymes. Ghostface gets introductory honors: “It’s like a body in a project hallway, who did it? / Who’s the next nigga that sucked the snitch / That’s my word, it could never be me / You see the deer head on the living room wall, like his neck fell off / That can be all sculptured and glazed with gloss / Call the shots that Bill Belichick would call / Snake niggas slither all in the glass house / Racial slurs, when it’s time to go to war, they cash out / Throw ’em in the rear-naked choke, they tap out / Niggas try to surround the kid, I backed out / And threw two rocks at ’em, watching the ho drop / I’m from a place where we locking the low glocks”
Curious on the track is the absence of Raekwon, but that’s quickly remedied by “Mef Vs. Chef 2” , a sequel to the classic Tical album cut. It certainly doesn’t have the urgency of the first – probably because this time Rae and Meth aren’t rapping for the rights to a solo cut on 36 Chambers – and therefore doesn’t quite stack up to the original. However, fans will be more than satisfied by the song’s clever rhymes and back-and-forth. After a brief skit, tag-team substitutes Solomon Childs and Streetlife join in on the “Smooth Sailing Remix,” which has Ghost and Meth (“And I’m the hand that rocks the cradle / Just like Hova, but I ain’t tryn’ to Roc the label”) talking crime over blaring horns and distant Soul samples.
RZA only has one contribution to Wu-Massacre, but what a contribution it is. “Our Dreams” marries Ghost, Meth and Rae’s rhymes about the fairer sex with a timely Michael Jackson sample. If ever there were an argument for the “Thug Love” subgenre in 2010, this is it. “Gunshowers” suffers from a relatively uninteresting beat with too short of a loop. “Dangerous” offers a richer backdrop of heavy brass and rums, but vocal mastering greatly varying quality make it obvious the track was rushed and recorded in separate locations. Fortunately, Emile comes to the rescue with “Pimpin’ Chipp,” a Ghostface Killah solo joint that’s a ’70s crime epic all in its own. Allah Mathematics offers up a piano loop that provides a little Latin flavor on “Miranda” whereas Scram Jones’ production on “Youngstown Heist” calls to memory former Wu favorite “I Can’t Go to Sleep.”
When all’s said and done, this is yet another solid contribution to the Wu catalog, which, at this point, must classify 2008 and beyond a “Wu-Tang Renaissance.” As the Meth, Ghost and Rae intimated in past interviews, the trio didn’t have proper time for the recording process, and occasionally it shows: in the quality of production and cohesion, as well as the general absence of rare but oh-so-important in-studio chemistry. It makes one wonder what they could’ve cooked up with proper studio time and attention to the project. But regardless of where one places it among Shaolin’s releases, Wu-Massacre stands on its own merit as an assembly of three legendary emcees putting on display what earned them the legendary status in the first place.