Hadn't played this through in a long time but I remembered this album as having no humorous interludes filled with humor, and being a lot shorter than whatever usually fits on a hip-hop cd - wrong on the first count and although it's not totally bloated it's still over an hour long. Docking a star for the unnecessary obligatory skit shite (although if they had let O'DB handle that end of it they coulda got their star back - he's is my favourite rap-man from the rap-ceol genre and shoulda been called Ol' Funny Bastard cos he was a funny ol' bastard).
The rest of it is mostly brilliant though and I wish I had heard it back when it came out. I didn't hear 36 Chambers til about '97 and I never gave Public Enemy a fair chance back when I should have, so two big teenage fails there to add to the list. '93 was my year of rap - kicked off in '92 with hearing Ice Cube's The Predator (still amazing) and killed off in '94 by seeing Mr. Cube in Dalymount Park trading insults with his wing man, all mock outrage and pantomime bullshit - it was like Bosco or something. Wu weren't much better the time I saw them either, especially as ODB wasn't with them even though he was still alive, the prick.
Thanks for making me listen to this again (only twice, mind - I still need one more spin (or, click) to be a paid up club member) - music shouldn't be for pleasure, you should be forced to listen to it by strangers on the internet.
I think I'll be ready to go with my thoughts on this tomorrow but I have to say, its been an experience. I can't recall ever listening to something, not liking it, then completely being won over in such a short space of time.
I'm up to listen number 6 at this stage. I know we tentatively agreed on 3 listens, but I've found my opinion and attitude changing so much from listen to listen that I was nowhere near ready to say what I thought.
I need at least one more listen. After lunch today, maybe.
Finally had a chance to listen to this tonight, couldn't crank it up because everyone else was in bed but I soon realised that it wasn't going to be as energetic as I was expecting. Really into the vibe on this, the music itself reminds me a bit of Tricky but the vocals have way more of an edge. Given the comments here, I was expecting the skit tracks to grate but they fit in with the rest of the album. I wasn't feeling the bloat either, it might drag on repeat listens but first impressions are very good.
Listen 1: As with all TAC (that's 'Thumped Album Club') albums so far I've waited to get to work on friday before checking what the week's selection is. So, at around 7:30am last friday morning I listened for the first time ever. Some music is morning music. Some music isn't. On first listen I decided this wasn't. For the first 5 or 6 songs I was thinking it decent enough. By the time the album ended I felt exhausted and needed a lie down.
Listen 2: sunday evening, while making my tea. This time played through speakers rather than headphones. Without actually stopping at any point to concentrate on the song I remember thinking it great music to have on in the background while pottering around the house.
Listen 3: monday morning in work. Finally, some songs start to gain some traction with me. At this point my subconcious is starting to file songs into 'great' and 'undecided' categories. The 'great' songs are ones I'd consider could have been commercially very successful. I was all over chart music back in 1993 (I bought both 'Rythm is a Dancer' by Snap, and 'Jump' by Kris Kross on 7", FYI) and I don't remember Wu-Tang-Clan having a hit. I find that a bit baffling now. 'Can It All Be So Simple' could have/should have been massive.
After listen 3 I started paying attention to some of the previous comments on thumped. About the interludes being annoying. About the album being too long. At that point I agreed with both of these. Now I don't agree with either. I'll come back to the interludes in a bit, but on the album being too long - at least 2 people have suggested that the album might have ended at 'Protect Ya Neck'. My favourite song on the album is 'Tearz', the track after 'Protect Ya Neck', another song that should have been a massive hit.
At this point I should have had plenty to go on to share my thoughts with thumped. But those 'other' songs were still bugging me a bit. The ones that weren't really gaining traction. So, another listen or 2 were needed.
The next listen was monday afternoon, at or after lunch. I listened while I was working away so wasn't concentrating too hard on the music. Cycling home from work that day there were 2 lines going around my head. 1: 'Wu-Tang-Clan Ain't Nothin to Fuck With', 2: 'Shame on an <> who tried to run game with a <>'.
We're up to listen 5 now. 'Da Mystery of Chessboxin' is the song thats now standing out. Its the only song on the album where theres that collective vocal, where they all sing the same line at the same time. Its great. Its infectious.
At this stage I've somewhat of a handle on about 60% of the album.
1 more listen brings me up to now. I'm still struggling with bits but this album is a very different proposition from those first few listens. I now recognise songs that previously sounded the same. I now look forward to reaching a point in the album when a certain song comes on. This is how listening to an album should be. A somewhat difficult album, like. You put in the effort, the rewards are there.
This is my history when it comes to hip-hop/rap.
The odd Beastie Boys and Run DMC song before the age of 18. Shortly after, procured a copy of Fear Of A Black Planet in a sale in HMV. A few years later, in a moment of weakness, purchased 2 Eminem albums at the same time. Listened to a couple of songs on one, hated it, turned it off, never listened again, and never listened to the other one (to this day). Heard '2001' by Dr.Dre while on a work trip to California. Loved it. Bought it. Got sick of it. Never listened again. Bought 'The Gift and the Curse' by Jay-Z while on holiday in Boston. Not long after, bought the Black album, also by Jay-Z. Never liked either. Got 2 albums by Kanye (College Dropout and one other), hated both.
And thats it.
I'm sure a hip-hop afficianado would tell me that this isn't a great representation of the genre, and after listening to Wu-Tang-Clan I couldn't argue.
I expected a much angrier album. Hip-hop as being a very integral part of African-American culture (probably why theres little or no good non-American hip-hop). That it was speaking to a disenfranchised and underpriveleged section of American society. That it addressed social issues, that it spoke directly to that section of society, and that was why that section of society can relate to, and understand this genre more than any of the rest of us ever will.
But this album isn't like that at all. This album sounds like a group of lads having the craic. I haven't followed the lyrics too closely, but I don't detect that anger or that defiance I imagined would be there. I love the sheer arrogance of it. To think this was their debut album, and there they are talking about world domination and sowing each other's arse cheeks shut.
I will come back to this album again, but I think I'll need to be in a particular mood to be able to sit down and listen to it through. I can see myself including songs from it on playlists, or dipping in and out of it here and there.
I reckon its a solid 3.5/5 for me. Its difficult to critique something you know little about. It'd be like trying to comment on a painting without knowing anything about art. But I enjoyed it. I found it (eventually) a rewarding listen. So I think 3.5 accurately reflects my opinion.
Now (or after a short breather), to the rest of the Wu-Tang-Clan back catalog.
This album sounds like a group of lads having the craic.
Yeah I like that aspect of it; even though the gangbanging clichés are there, they also kind of inhabit their own world informed by the Shaw Brothers, as it were. As opposed to their contemporaries in hip-hop cool – Cypress Hill? (Their big hit's got an anti-cop protest verse.) Onyx? (They doubled down on the paramilitarism, even if their hits aren't as angry as their image.)
I haven't been able to give this a whole listen yet; I'm only getting as far as track 3 or 4 at the minute. But my impression so far is it's like being stuck in a lift with a bunch of hyperactive teenagers or someone with ADD!
I'm sticking with it for the sake of TAC (can we get TAC badges @pete?) but I don't know if it's for me. Saying that, I'm taking inspiration from @scutter and other posters and am enjoying reading other peoples' reactions the the record, so Imma gonna stick with it.
I should have stuck it on last night instead of listening to a whole load of Miles, but I needed some come down after work and couldn't be doing with a whole load of African-Americans getting all oopside my head.
I'm gonna aim for a good oul listen on the bus journey home tonight!!
This album is great. I really wasn't expecting this kind of production, the kind of trip-hop-y stuff I thought pretty much came entirely from Portishead and Tricky. When I think about it why on earth wouldn't hip-hop bands have a crossover with trip-hop, sake. I remember a lot of music in the mid to late 90's that tried to do this kind of thing with pop rock, it really brings me back to that era. I definitely was really into a few albums that were trying to do this kind of thing mixing live instruments with beats and writing songs instead of rapping over it. I guess the end point for this stuff was probably Fun Lovin Criminals...
I was a little surprised at how close to Public Enemy (speaking broadly, I'm no rap expert) a lot of the rapping is on it, I thought everything had gone G-Funk and Gangsta Rap from 1993 onwards but this still sounds a little bit golden age hip hop to my ears. More accurately I'm probably just reacting to them being from New York instead of the West Coast. No one my age seemed to like New York hip hop back in the 90's, it was all just Dre and Tupac, so I think I assumed it had disappeared.
Anyway, overall a great album, THANKS ALBUM CLUB. So far the best album chosen from my perspective.
oh and I don't mind the skits at all, none of them are too long. Unnecessary but I don't bother skipping them. I give the album 9/10, losing 1 mark cos it does go on forever.