After a long seven year hiatus (which seemed like forever) the mighty Wu-Tang Clan are finally back with their new 20th anniversary album A Better Tomorrow. Emerging from the dark corners of Staten Island the group consisting of RZA, GZA, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, U-God, Cappadonna and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard (ODB) first burst onto the scene with their incredible debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Any hip hop fan can tell you that 36 Chambers is one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time, their follow up album Wu-Tang Forever was another fine piece of art as was The W and Iron Flag. Six years on from Iron Flag the group released 8 Diagrams which unfortunately didn’t live up to the status of their previous albums and now seven years on from that we have their 20th anniversary album A Better Tomorrow and sadly it to doesn’t live up to the Wu-Tang we all used to know.
Earlier in the year Raekwon publicly announced his dispute with group leader RZA and boycotted all recording sessions for the album, eventually the pair made truce which is why we are hearing the album today however; something just doesn’t feel right on this record its not the same Wu-Tang spirit we’ve heard on previous albums.
It feels good to hear the legendary voice of ODB on Ruckus In B Minor, the opening track is one of the better joints on the album and shows that the group can still bring their A game, unfortunately it doesn’t happen enough throughout the rest of the record. Felt delivers some of the best verses on the album especially from Meth and Ghost however; the fast tempo beat seems unfitting to the Wu-Tang sound. The closest we get to that rugged and raw style we all love comes through Hold the Heater, the track sees some killer verses from GZA and Cappadonna but its Meth who steals the show, not just on this track but throughout the whole album.
Lyrically the best track here is Miracle, Inspectah Deck kicks things off with an incredibly powerful verse while Ghost matches it with his closing effort. Sadly though the track is ruined by a horrendous choir sounding hook that really loses the punch created by the masterful verses. Preacher’s Daughter pays homage to Dusty Springfield’s 1969 track Son of a Preacher, Meth opens the track with another killer verse and things start to sound pretty dope until we get to the chorus, only changing a few words from the original its sounds cringe worthy to say the least.
Its a bit little to late however; the album really starts to cook once we hear Necklace and things keep cooking with proceeding tracks Ron O’Neal, A Better Tomorrow and Never Let Go, its a shame that the whole album couldn’t keep this standard.
Look A Better Tomorrow is not a terrible album, there is some quality music on here that all Wu-Tang fans old and new will enjoy however; there is some ordinary music on here that die hard fans will find unacceptable. I think Raekwon was right when he said RZA’s direction doesn’t represent the Wu-Tang image anymore, I mean there are some terrible production decisions from RZA on here that are the complete opposite to the sound we all fell in love with 20 years ago. At times it almost sounds like some of the members don’t really want to be there, it feels forced, nothing like the passion we’ve heard from previous albums, ultimately I think this will be the last album from one of hip hop’s greatest groups, but don’t worry because Wu-Tang is forever! Rest In Peace Ol’ Dirty Bastard we miss you.