When it comes to groups that are uniformly considered to be rap royalty, few acts eclipse Wu-Tang Clan. Whether it's impact, bodies of work or just pure longevity, no other group in hip-hop comes close. Though they’ve individually continued to release great albums, as a group the quality and consistency of their projects has undeniably declined. Their previous 'proper' studio album (not including the one-off LP bought by the internet's most hated man, Martin Shkreli) is probably considered the weakest and most inconsistent project from the group to date.
Given this, it's likely that even die-hard fans of the legendary Staten Island group will go into this project with a certain degree of trepidation. Crafted by long-time Wu affiliate Mathematics under the watchful eye of RZA, 'The Saga Continues' is part-compilation, part-album and part-mystery. You can feel the traditional Wu-Tang aesthetic in full effect right from the start, with a authoritative RZA monologue introducing the project. Next track 'Lesson Learn'd' sets the tone for the project, as a soul sample chopped up in classic RZA style is the backdrop for a back and forth of verses from Inspectah Deck and Wu affiliate Redman.
'The Saga Continues' peaks at its mid point, with the one-two punch of 'Pearl Harbor' and 'People Say' capturing what people expect from a Wu-Tang project. Both tracks have soulful yet dark instrumentals, allowing the Wu members to competitively flex their lyrical prowess. Method Man's verse on 'People Say' may be the strongest and most memorable on the entire project, as he sounds more inspired than he has for a long time.
Unfortunately one of the major issues with this Wu project, and their recent group projects in general, is that the Clan's chemistry is just not as powerful as it used to be. Aside from the two tracks just mentioned, some records on the album just seem pieced together and are ill-thought out. It's no secret that certain members of the group haven't seen eye-to-eye recently, but it's becoming more and more apparent that certain verses are throwaways or are just phoned in. Tracks like 'G'd Up', 'If What You Say Is True' and 'Frozen' sound dated and illustrate this lack of chemistry.
At its best, 'The Saga Continues' captures some of the old Wu magic but unfortunately these moments are few and far between.
Words: Will Rosebury
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