Wu-Tang Clan: A Better Tomorrow

Even getting them all in the same room is a kinda miracle these days, so shut up and enjoy what you get.

- The Wu-Tang Clan as a whole have not been on the same page for like ten years now. Raekwon hasn't been down with RZA's spiritual direction. Ghostface is all about Ghostface and not much else and GZA has all but fallen off the face of the Earth, leaving RZA, Method Man and the rest of the clan to try and weave together something coherent from the scraps thrown to them by the aforementioned members. Not an easy task considering the members with the time and energy to spare are usually those lacking the huge personalities that give Wu-Tang the edge over all other comers.

Wu-Tang’s sixth full length record A Better Tomorrow is a strange and surreal record that is both equal parts enjoyable and frustrating. It doesn't hesitate to state its intention. The opening cut, Ruckus In B Minor seems like a great sign of things to come. It's also the track that Rick Rubin was called -late in the day- to work on with his questionable yet strangely affable magic behind the boards; apparently RZA couldn't quite pin it down by himself. The track itself is the oddly perfect return to form from one of the hands down greatest rap groups of all time, seven long years since their previous official release. With this being said, sadly this intensity comes and goes with no warning throughout the rest of the record. At times it’s exhilarating and I’m about to blast off, then other times I feel myself turning into a limp mess.

A Better Tomorrow is an intriguing release: it's the creators of some of the most timeless hip hop music attempting to remain timeless twenty two plus years deep into their collective careers. The record is by no means a classic and those who might have heralded this record as the second (or third) coming of the Wu will likely be a little disheartened by what RZA has pieced together from what little help he seemed to receive from a handful of the group's most prominent members. Everyman and their dog wants a record full of Ghostface, Raekwon and GZA but what you're given is an uneven spread of all your favourites and a fair bit of filler. Don’t get me wrong: Wu-Tang filler is still pretty dang good, but you can’t help thinking of what could have been. Especially considering the record's preceeding single that featured the majority of the clan, painting a false picture of unity. Hell, even the late, great Ol’ Dirty Bastard spits some fire on it and he’s plain dead in the ground. Still, RZA can’t seem to muster up much team spirit for the rest of the record. Few seem willing to throw him even a half-decent sized bone.

A Better Tomorrow feels more like a RZA and friends record than a fully fledged Wu-Tang release. It's a record that steers closer to soulful modernism than the Shaolin via the way of New York City gangsterism of days gone by. The Wu-Tang Clan may have envisioned a better tomorrow but it hasn't arrived.

- Jay Edwards.

Album Details

Album Title: A Better Tomorrow
Artist: Wu-Tang Clan
Record Label: (Warner)