Wu-Tang Clan – The Saga Continues
- Arusa Qureshi
- 12 October 2017
The hip hop supergroup's seventh studio album sees them return to their lyrically conscious yet militant roots
With the release of their genre-defining 1993 debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Wu-Tang Clan unequivocally announced their arrival as the one the greatest hip hop groups of all-time, bringing to the forefront a kind of rap that was cerebral in its delivery and intuitive in style. In contrast to the gritty gangsta rap of the West Coast, Wu-Tang's focus was on lyrical consciousness combined with militant action, with metaphorical allusions to kung fu battles standing in for real-life issues relating to resistance and empowerment.
It's been 14 years since the release of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and in that time, there have been five more studio albums, various solo albums and special compilations, not to mention the death of a key member of the group, a range of legal issues and many falling outs along the way. But, 14 years later, Wu-Tang are somehow still going strong, returning with their seventh album The Saga Continues, which sees RZA take his rightful place as executive producer and Mathematics handling production.
Past critiques of Wu-Tang releases have made reference to their attempts to continually push their sound in new directions, which occasionally takes away from that original energy and raw aesthetic. But The Saga Continues is strangely refreshing in its familiarity; it flows, on the most part, like a classic Wu-Tang album, with expected scatterings of obscure movie dialogue samples, tongue-in-cheek observations and frank analysis running throughout. In the short intro track, opening fanfares make their intention clear: to keep the Wu-Tang story going while reclaiming their rightful place on the throne of hip hop.
'Lessons Learn'd' continues with a formidable duet courtesy of Inspectah Deck and Redman, with Redman's hook 'Them Wu-Tang n****s don't play' acting as a reminder of their mastery and don't-fuck-with-us attitude. This is perhaps most evident in the song's diss of super-villain Martin Shkreli ('My price hikin' like the pills Martin Shkreli sell'), who bought the (probably fake) lone copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin for $2 million.