Wu-Tang Clan

Wu-Tang Chamber Music (E1 Music)

Like 2005's Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture, Wu-Tang Chamber Music is not an official Wu album. An "official compilation," rather, it doesn't feature folks like Masta Killa and GZA, instead hosting NYC old-school all-stars including Masta Ace, Sadat X and Kool G Rap. But it feels like vintage Clan; in fact, a lot of people will probably like this better than the group's last album, 8 Diagrams, which was widely viewed as a pretentious departure from their signature style. Full of kung-fu clips and live instrumental funk and soul, Chamber Music's production was done by RZA and Brooklyn band The Revelations. With its explosive choruses and mystical atmosphere it recalls the group's early days.

Inspectah Deck's inspired verse on "Sound the Horns" is a highlight, as is "Radiant Jewels," which features a dramatic violin hook and airtight rhymes from Raekwon and Cormega. Lyrically, not everyone brings their A-game: Ghostface Killah has a few throwaways ("Pockets is fat like the Goodyear blimp," etc.) and RZA continues to spout the nonsense metaphysical mumbo-jumbo he's been so fond of in recent years. Still, after the group's recent internal animosity, it's great to see them still making good—and sometimes great—music together.

 
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