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Wu-Tang Collective

Wu-Tang Clan

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Album Review

As the Wu-Tang Clan began to expand their empire during the late '90s, a series of hodgepodge albums surfaced that jumbled mainstay clansmen alongside a bunch of questionable affiliates like Sunz of Man and Killarmy. These spotty releases — namely the Wu-Chronicles series, Wu-Syndicate, and The Swarm — blurred the line between various-artists compilations and outright albums, and furthermore often billed RZA as executive producer when in fact they featured little of his actual productions and likewise often billed big-name Wu rappers when in fact they featured mostly no-name affiliates. All shadiness aside, this run of releases did include some great moments, several of which are compiled on Wu-Tang Collective, a 15-track British release by Music Club. Each of the genuine Wu members — RZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Raekwon, GZA, Masta Killa, U-God, Inspectah Deck, Method Man, and Ghostface Killah — show up at least once, usually in support of the many Wu spin-offs as well as a few non-clansmen: tha Liks (alongside Ol' Dirty on "Hip Hop Drunkies"), Cocoa Brovaz (alongside Rae on "Black Trump"), and Big L (alongside Shyheim on "Furious Anger"). The roster of talent on Wu-Tang Collective is dizzying and diverse, no doubt. What's lacking, though, is RZA-quality production, which unfortunately is helmed rarely by the Wu Abbot himself, who was absolutely peerless during this era, as illustrated here by his late-album triptych: "'97 Mentality," "And Justice for All," and "Execute Them." The resulting sum is then just as hodgepodge as the previously released mishmashs it culled itself from, only more selective and thus preferable. Even if Wu-Tang Collective doesn't measure up to an authentic Wu album — either group or solo — it's still a relatively solid document of the Clan's ill-fated expansion efforts and has just enough standout moments to engage hungry fans who either missed or bypassed these recordings the first time around.

Biography

Formed: 1992 in Staten Island, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Emerging in 1993, when Dr. Dre's G-funk had overtaken the hip-hop world, the Staten Island, New York-based Wu-Tang Clan proved to be the most revolutionary rap group of the mid-'90s — and only partially because of their music. Turning the standard concept of a hip-hop crew inside out, the Wu-Tang Clan were assembled as a loose congregation of nine MCs, almost as a support group. Instead of releasing one album after another, the Clan were designed to overtake the record industry in as profitable...
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