The Wu-Tang Clan is the most-prolific, most talented hip-hop collective in rap's three-decade history. Since 1993, the Clan has been swinging their lyrical swords and slaying their rap competitors. RZA, GZA, BZA, MZA, RKWN, GFK, INS, UGD, and MK have led the way in hip-hop expertise ever since their debut in `93. Now, over fifteen years later, "Chamber Music" boasts a return to the 36 Chambers.
Was this album worth the wait? Wu-Heads rejoice: "Chamber Music" is an almost-perfect blend of hard-hitting lyricism and smooth-as-silk instrumentation. The Revelations, under the direction of RZA, the Abbot, provide live-in-the-studio instrumentation for the Clan.
Along with RZA and The Revelations, rap legends Masta Ace, AZ, Cormega, Sean Price, Havoc, Tre Williams, M.O.P., Kool G Rap, and Sadat X temporarily join the Clan (albeit without the support of GZA, Method Man, and Masta Killa). Indeed, GZA, Method Man, and Masta Killa are sorely missed...but let's not dwell on the negative (after all, this is not a Clan release; this is an affiliate compilation album).
RZA offers Wu-Tang philosophy and wisdom throughout the entire album. These interludes are short and sweet, and fortunately, these do not distract from the music. Sandwiched between these interludes, we find an exposition of witty and unpredictable talent and natural game.
Surprisingly, every track is pure dynamite. "Kill Too Hard" is a wonderful opener. "Harbor Masters" is catchy. "Radiant Jewels" is easily a prelude to Only Built for Cuban Lynx, Part 2. (Raekwon is back.) "Evil Deeds" is perhaps the hardest track on the disc (and the piano is mesmerizing). "I Wish You Were Here" is both beautiful and heartbreaking. (Thank you, Tre Williams.) "Ill Figures" is laid-back and smooth...yet it cuts like a knife. "Sound the Horns" provides variety and "N.Y.C. Crack" is better than anything on the Bobby Digital albums. (Forgive me Bobby D.)
All in all, "Chamber Music" is a worthwhile collection of eight amazing, full-length tracks and nine better-than-average interludes. Sadly, this joint is too damn short! (Then again...35 minutes of Wu-Tang perfection is better than 35 years of G-Unit bulls---.) This joint, despite its short running time, is otherwise a classic hip-hop gem in the Wu-Tang crown.
If you think of the Wu-Tang debut as the Shaolin Sword in your music arsenal, consider "Chamber Music" as your Shaolin Dagger. It's short, but it's just as deadly.
Wu-Heads unite: purchase "Chamber Music" and rock this album into the future.