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WU-TANG CLAN

wu-tang

A Better Tomorrow
Warner

It’s been a rough road to release for Wu-Tang’s sixth studio album, A Better Tomorrow, tainted by internal bickering worthy of the Kardashians, all types of delays, and a technically challenged Ol’ Dirty Bastard hologram onstage last year. The album title is almost begging you to forget the recent past.

It’s hard to listen to this album without pricking your ears for any note of insurrection, and RZA engenders the image of a long-suffering parent on a road trip, just trying to get everyone home in one piece. That said, A Better Tomorrow is exquisitely produced, and by the 10th track it’s clear that we are dealing with vintage Wu, as Masta Killa lays it out: ‘This is what y’all wanted back / Classic Wu, RZA track‘. He’s not wrong: the ’90s kids are grown up sufficiently to pine for the past, and this brand of nostalgia and gimmick-free hip hop strikes right at their FUBU-clad core. Old lyrics are reworked, talk of ‘legacy’ and ‘memory’ is rife, and ODB’s unmistakable whinny is the first voice that hits your ears, taking you right back to another era. 

Despite tight-knit production, this is nothing extraordinary. Although there are a couple of standouts, the supposedly final album for one of hip hop’s most prolific supergroups sounds more like a death rattle than an apotheosis. 

3.5 stars

NIC LINEY