12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
RZA the "Hip Hop Hippy" in total control,
This review is from: 8 Diagrams: +DVD (Audio CD)
It's not a secret, the clan's mc's are not really feelin' the new Wu album.
Raekwon and Ghostface have been the most vocal critics; Rae going as far as calling the Abbot of the clan Prince Rakeem (RZA) a "Hip Hop Hippy" over the genre-stretching soundscapes that he has crafted. I agree that, at times, it seems RZA forgot that this is a group effort, and the album ends up feeling a touch 'flabby' due to his experimentation with sounds and structure (too much instrumentation... Too much singing... Too much U-God!). But it is not a bad album. Just a shock for fans like me.
RZA sees himself like the rest of the Hip Hop world see him... as a Master Producer. However he seems all too aware of his stature and ability, and now he has used the sacred ground of a Wu-Tang studio album to indulge his creative urges. It seems here that RZA is trying to genuinely take Hip Hop forward, but maybe it's too much too soon, and arguably, a Wu album is not the right platform. There is no doubting that this is a CD unlike anything released this year, but the Wu's strength lies in the "Protect Your Neck"-type vibe. Here, the emcee's seem a bit lost rapping over flourishing flamenco guitars and wailing vocals from inebriated funk stars from the 70's. At times, it can all seem a bit of a mess to be honest.
But, this is an attempt to do something big, something new, and that needs to be appreciated. In RZA's defence, when it works, it REALLY works, and that's when I can see his vision. The first track to leak, "Heart Gently Weeps" has been re-recorded whilst keeping the eerie influence of the Beatles track it samples/re-plays. "Wolves" allows the emcee's to spit fire, and keeps the seemingly drunk vocalists ramblings to a minimum. "Rushing Elephants" is a very un-Wu-like bouncy affair that has replay value, and "Take It Back" is like a comfort blanket for older Wu fans who want more of a straight up Hip Hop track that acts as a rest from the orchestration created by RZA elsewhere.
Though there is far too much U-God and not enough Ghostface, a pleasant surprise is the return of Method Man as a dangerous emcee. It seems that he appears on most tracks, and when he does, he spitting that fire like it's 93 again.
In all, this is still better than 80% of the mainstream Hip Hop released today. It's an album you may have to work hard to like, and you may have 5 or 6 tracks that you feel the need to skip every time you play it, but when it works, this is the sound of a Master Producer with a vision pushing a genre forwards. A brave effort on RZA's part, as he must have known he was going to be criticised.
Raekwon urged RZA to "put down the guitars" and craft more of that hardcore music. I think there is room for both types of musical expression on a Wu-Tang Clan album, and perhaps more of a mixture was needed here, but I wouldn't bet that as time goes by, 8 Diagrams might just be seen as a hugely influential moment in Hip Hop.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Dec 2007 10:43:48 GMT
G. J. Shanks says:
Fine review. Can't wait to hear the album.
Posted on 7 Dec 2007 11:08:04 GMT
Thanks G. J. Shanks.
I've had the album for two weeks now, and I can assure you its "a grower", so don't give up on it after one listen.
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