Sunday, February 4, 2018

Wu-Tang Clan - The Saga Continues Review

As far as comparisons go, this is better than the Wu-Tang Clan's last project. Rejoice? Not really, considering A Better Tomorrow was one of the more forgettable, dated, hackneyed Hip-Hop albums in recent memory. Squabbles aside, of which there are many, RZA returns here as obligatory leader, a mantle only he holds in high esteem. Considering the depth of the Wu-Tang Clan, and the drama constantly unfolding behind the scenes, expecting the full, nine-rapper ensemble to return would've been foolish. GZA, U-God, and Masta Killa fail to appear, but more noticeably, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, and Cappadonna only appear once. Perhaps as contractual obligation, or the swift shuffling under the rug of tension. There is 'If What You Say Is True,' where GZA, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, and Ol Dirty Bastard appear, but the verses sound like nothing more than old throwaways. So, essentially, The Saga Continues is a collaboration album between RZA, the commander and chief who dips in and out for declarative verses on the state of America, and Mathematics, the group's primary beat-maker post-2000's. Neither are equip to steer the reigns of Hip-Hop away from the trends it's so awfully become accustomed to. The Saga Continues is a post-clash Wu-Tang album through and through, diluted and entirely removed from the genre it helped to promote.

Unlike A Better Tomorrow, where egregious tracks like 'Hold The Heater' and 'Never Let Go,' ran rampant, The Saga Continues' efforts are more grounded, safe, and conventional. The only times they stray, on tracks like 'Why Why Why' and 'My Only One,' are when insipid R&B singers derail the focus with idle fodder. It's at times like these where I'm reminded of Big Boi's grand disappointment earlier in the year with Boomiverse, a record created by an aging rapper trying to stay hip by going through a midlife crisis. When they're not attempting to coalesce with the youth, something they attempt on the hook of 'G'd Up,' or in the process of criticizing them ('Frozen'), Wu-Tang riffles through their 16-bar fascination with sometimes enjoyable, often times not, old man braggadocio. 'Lesson Learn'd' and 'People Say' the best examples of when they succeed, especially in conjunction with Mathematics' well-rounded East Coast Boom Bap. 'Fast & Furious' and 'Pearl Harbor' examples of when they falter, mostly due to a pedestrian hook on the former and a forced pun ("gynecology/gun-ecology") on the latter. Much like their past decade's catalogue, The Saga Continues is ultimately nothing of note. Today, Wu-Tang represents a collective of rappers stuck in their ways, intent on getting a check. Despite how often they tout Hip-Hop, the conventionality Wu-Tang grind through is nothing more than a slap in the face to music as an art form.


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