This album was released on November 20th in 2000. I’m not really sure how I’m gonna feel about this album. I never really see people talking about it, so I’m not sure how the reception was. I’m assuming it’s nowhere near as good as the first couple Wu albums just because this is the first album in their discography that isn’t recognized as a classic. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it to some extent though. The features are definitely intriguing. I’m excited to hear the Nas & Busta Rhymes collabs, and the Isaac Hayes feature should be interesting too. I’m expecting this to be a decent to good album. Every beat is produced by RZA, aside from track 10, which is produced by Mathematics.
The album starts with a really dope intro entitled Shaolin Finger Jab / Chamber Music. I think the Shaolin Finger Jab portion of the track is kind of unnecessary. I would probably like it more if the transition from the skit to Chamber Music was more seamless, but it just sounds kinda awkward. The actual content of the skit is really cool though. I mean, I guess it can’t really be considered a skit. It’s just an audio clip from a movie entitled Five Deadly Venoms. If you’re familiar with Wu then you know what it sounds like. I usually like when they sample movies like that, but, like I said, the transition from Shaolin Finger Jab to Chamber Music isn’t as smooth as it should be. That’s a super nitpick though. Chamber Music itself is really dope. I think the RZA‘s production is fire to be honest. I love the beat. It’s really dusty and raw sounding. All of the verses on this track are really good too. I mean, I guess the final verse from Masta Killa isn’t that great, but it’s decent enough. Raekwon, GZA, and Method Man all killed this track though. I think GZA probably had my favorite verse. I like how he referenced my favorite Otis Redding song. That was tight. Method Man’s flow was of course pristine as always. Raekwon sounded great on the first verse too. I’m unfortunately not really crazy about the hook from Method Man, but it’s fine I guess. Overall, this is a really dope track. I think a better hook—or no hook at all to be honest—could’ve pushed this song to the next level for me, but it’s still really great as it is. I love the production, and all of the verses are very good. Track 2 is entitled Careful (Click, Click).
I think the beat on this track is pretty cool, but none of the verses are really that good to me unfortunately. Well, that’s not true. I think Inspectah Deck had a pretty good performance. None of the others were that great though. Even Ghostface Killah had a somewhat disappointing verse. The opening verse from RZA was really weak in my opinion, and I also think the hook is really lame. If Ghostface Killah and Inspectah Deck weren’t on this song, it would mostly be occupied by the lesser members of the clan. We get really unimpressive verses from Masta Killa, Cappadonna, and U-God. Like I said, the only verse that I really enjoyed here even a little bit was that of INS. It’s unfortunate because I think the beat is nice, but overall this song isn’t very entertaining to me. It’s an okay track though. I think it’s decent. It’s followed by Hollow Bones, which was one of the more exciting tracks on the album for me because it’s performed by Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, and Ghostface Killah. I’m not crazy about the beat on this track, but it’s solid. The opening verse from Raekwon is really great. The storytelling is very well done here.
We seen the eyes laying up, playing the cut, what?
Stay in the truck, something told me duck, folded me up
My shoulders struck out of luck, fucked the Pradas up
Fell in a daze like a Golotta snuff, niggas tried to body me up
I'm in the lobby bleeding, niggas in the waiting office probably eating
And sprinting and beefing when they heard the shots called the precinct
And seen barber nieces beast, some niggas shot Shallah features
And shot through his Alesis, bent the spinal cordless creatures
The second verse from INS is really damn good as well, but it feels kinda short. I think he could’ve went in a bit longer. That’s a nitpick though. I really enjoyed his verse. Ghostface Killah killed that final verse too. I could’ve done without the F bomb, but the verse overall is fire. Still though, something about this song feels empty. Maybe it’s the kind of slow-paced production, which makes it feel like the song lacks a sense of urgency. I still like the song overall, but it’s not really a highlight for me on this album. The storytelling is very well done though, and everyone here had a nice flow. It’s a good track. Same goes for the following song, Redbull. It’s a good track, but far from a highlight for me. I think the production is decent, but all of the verses are pretty good. You know dudes are rapping well when Redman has the weakest verse on your track. In my opinion, each verse on this track is better than the one it follows. Meth did his thing, but Inspectah Deck had my favorite verse on the song. I think this song could’ve been better if it had a better beat and maybe an actual hook as opposed to just a bunch of shoutouts from Raekwon & Ghostface. It’s a good track overall, but, again, far from my favorite. The following song is called One Blood Under W, and it features Junior Reid. As the title kind of indicates, it’s basically a Wu-Tang version of his hit song, One Blood. I think it’s an okay track. I’ve just never really been crazy about Junior Reid personally. One Blood isn’t for me at all. I always found his voice pretty annoying honestly. Also, the only rapper featured on this song is Masta Killa. His rapping isn’t horrible or anything, but I’m just not really crazy about the way he rhymes. His rhyme patterns sound really awkward to me a lot of the time. With that said, I actually think he gives one of his better performances on this track. That diss to 50 Cent was pretty hard.
Fuck fame, I shoot a hole in a 50 Cent piece to test my aim How dare you call the Gods in vain? Not knowin' the seriousness of this and why I came
The production from RZA is okay. It’s not a bad song to me, but it’s not something I’m gonna be listening to again in the future. It’s decent. Track 6 is called Conditioner, and it’s definitely the weakest song up to this point on the record. It’s really a shame because this is the only appearance from Ol’ Dirty Bastard on the whole project. His performance here is really underwhelming though. His delivery is uncharacteristically laid back, and his flow and lyricism aren’t particularly great. I actually think the second verse from Snoop Dogg of all people is better. He was rhyming pretty well, and I liked his flow. I really don’t care for RZA’s simplistic, piano-driven production on this track, and the hook sucks too. The beat switches up after about four minutes and gets a lot more interesting, and then GZA comes through with the best verse on the song. It’s not an amazing verse or anything, but it’s pretty damn good. According to Wikipedia, he freestyled this verse, which is cool. It’s nowhere near good enough to save the song, but it’s easily the most enjoyable part of the track. Overall, I think the song is mediocre. It’s followed Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off).
This track is pretty exciting because it features every member of the clan aside from ODB. It’s easily one of the best songs on the album too. I think every single verse here is pretty dope. Even Cappadonna and Masta Killa had surprisingly good performances. U-God definitely had my least favorite verse, but I wouldn’t say it was really bad. It just didn’t stand out as much as the others. GZA, Raekwon, and Inspectah Deck had my favorite verses though. They all rapped really well. I like the beat on this song a lot too. However, I will say that it sounded kind of awkward when it suddenly switched up right before U-God’s verse. I wouldn’t have minded if they just kept the first beat throughout the whole song. Apparently there’s no switch up on the single version of the song, so that’s cool. Anyway, I think this track is really dope. Again, it’s one of the best songs on the album to me. It’s followed by Let My Niggas Live. This is another pretty exciting track for me because it features Nas. I really like this track, but it’s not as amazing as I originally thought it would be. I think my issue with this song is just the hook. It’s really slow and kinda takes the momentum out of the track in my opinion. I like RZA’s production here though. The beat is darker than the stains in my underwear. The opening verse from Raekwon was nice, and Inspectah Deck did a great job on the final verse. Nas definitely had the best verse on this song in my opinion though. I think he killed this shit. Overall, the song is pretty good, but it just feels like it’s missing something. I think maybe the production could’ve been a little better honestly. It just feels kinda skeletal. I fuck with the song overall though. Track 9 is called I Can’t Go to Sleep, and it has a feature from Isaac Hayes.
This is easily the best song on the album to me. I think the production here is absolutely fantastic. This beat is fire. It’s kind of surprising to me that the more melodic approach to the production here turned out so well because I typically associate the Wu-Tang Clan with a grimier sound. This shit is fire though. I do think that the over the top vocal deliveries from Ghostface & RZA can get to be a bit much, but that’s just a nitpick because the actual rapping here is fire. I’m actually not sure whose verse I prefer to be honest. I think they both rapped really well. I appreciate the more serious content and tone of this track.
Somebody raped our women, murdered our babies
Hit us with the cracks and guns in the early '80s
For those that murdered me shall stand before God
To fall at the hands of fate, then out comes the rod
The hook from Isaac Hayes is really good too. I can’t really separate him from the voice of South Park’s Chef, but that’s not really a problem. It just makes it kinda funny to me. I think everyone here performed really well though. Like I said, this is the best song on the album. I think it’s dope as hell. It’s followed by another one of the better songs on the album, Do You Really (Thang, Thang). I didn’t think I was gonna like this song based off of the title. I can’t read “thang, thang” without cringing at least a little bit. This shit is dope though. The production from Mathematics is great, and every verse here is pretty nice. I don’t really think the hook is anything special, but it works. The first verse from Streetlife is really great. His flow was nice, and he kept a very consistent rhyme scheme going throughout the whole verse. Meth came through with a pretty nice verse too.
After midnight, eatin MC's, change to a gremlin
You're tremblin', behind the Kremlin wall surrenderin'
That's what you get for rushin' in the direction I was bustin'
Polish your sword, your shit is rustin'
It should come as no surprise that Masta Killa had my least favorite verse on the song. It was an okay verse though. It definitely wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t as good as the others. Inspectah Deck probably had my favorite performance honestly. The song is dope overall. It’s followed by The Monument, which is another one of the more exciting songs for me because it features Busta Rhymes. It thankfully didn’t disappoint at all. Busta Rhymes‘ verse on this track is pretty awesome.
Straight smack a nigga right in the face like this was handball
I'll make a mural out his face up on a damn wall
Niggas play hard and shit
If you know what's best for you y'all niggas better safeguard your shit
Even though we rep brass knuckle rap
Fuck with street geniuses and bowlegged chicks who walk with a gap
Street niggas now the corporate boss
Still go to y'all restaurant for steamed fish and Irish moss
The second verse from Raekwon is nice too, and GZA killed the final verse. I’m not sure who had my favorite verse between Busta & GZA. I’m leaning towards Busta Rhymes though. All of the verses are enjoyable, and I think RZA’s production is pretty solid. It’s a dope song. The penultimate track is entitled Gravel Pit.
This is another one of the best songs on the album in my opinion. I love the fast paced production on this track from RZA, and every verse here is really good. Even U-God had a pretty impressive performance. I really like the uncredited vocals from Paulissa Moorman on the hook as well. Ghostface Killah probably had my favorite performance on this track. I love the way his verse ended.
Perfect combos, Ghost bang out condos
Jeff from Hamo, ex three bangos
Bancos, stank hoes in plain clothes
Change those, bang those, same old same old
There’s really nothing about this song that I don’t like. I think everyone involved did a really great job. The song is dope as hell. The closing track is entitled Jah World, and it has another feature from Junior Reid. I actually like Junior Reid’s performance on this track though. I think he sounds a lot better when he’s singing in this lower register. The first verse from Ghostface is really good.
I thought we lived by the books, The Bible, Qu'ran
We pick cotton, my back is still hot and dark and
They threw burners in our babies' faces
Pale hands that looked scary touched our bodies in the strangest places
I think the second verse from RZA is even better despite its brevity. Much like with I Can’t Go to Sleep, I appreciate the more serious tone of this track. The rapping is great, the production is good, and I even like the sung hook from Junior Reid. This song is dope.
This is a good album. I honestly don’t think it’s much worse than Wu-Tang Forever personally. I appreciate the shorter runtime. I definitely think the second half is a big step up from the first half, which was pretty inconsistent. It’s kind of disappointing that ODB was in jail and couldn’t contribute more to this release, but it is what it is. I think all the non-Wu-Tang features came through with dope performances thankfully. I’ve seen some people say that this is the best Wu-Tang Clan album, and those people are insane. It’s definitely a good project though, and probably not as respected as it should be. I see why it’s not viewed as a classic though because it doesn’t really have the same level of hype that Wu-Tang Forever had, and it’s nowhere near consistent enough to be on the same level as 36 Chambers. It’s not really a must-listen album in my opinion. However, if you’re a fan of Wu-Tang, you’re definitely gonna wanna hear it at some point. It’s a dope record. I fuck with it.