Wu-Tang Clan coup? 'It's like getting the United Nations to all agree'

Legendary hip-hop group's plans for a 20th-anniversary album in jeopardy as members reveal power struggle

The Wu-Tang Clan are divided. Despite the announcement of a 20th-anniversary album, A Better Tomorrow, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah appear to be keeping their distance from the comeback, sitting out the group's new single, Keep Watch.

"Keep dreaming," Raekwon tweeted on Tuesday. It's a message that could be interpreted as either hopeful or ominous. But although Wu-Tang have revealed the album is "in the works and almost ready to ship", a Grantland profile indicates a schism between Raekwon and the group's de facto frontman, RZA.

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"It's like getting the United Nations to all agree on one fucking thing," Raekwon told Grantland. "Italy ain’t having it. Japan is on some shit. You know what I mean? … I would be the first one to say that we cannot leave everything in RZA’s hand no more. He has done his job to the greatest of his ability when we were younger, but now every man plays an imperative role in this situation."

According to RZA, Wu-Tang's first LP in seven years was supposed to come out "on our anniversary date", in November 2013. But despite RZA investing "a lot of money and a lot of time" – even re-opening the Wu Mansion studio in New Jersey – "Raekwon didn't show up at all", and neither Ghostface nor GZA seem enthusiastic. "It’s kind of hard to grasp, or understand, the magnitude of [RZA's] obsession," GZA said.

Relations between RZA and some of Wu-Tang's other members have been strained since the release of their last album, 8 Diagrams. Ghostface and Raekwon disapproved of RZA's production, which diverged from the crew's traditional sample-heavy sound. "My brothers ... [were] shitting on it," RZA recalled. "I remember, it was all of us in a room, and I said, 'I will never again step up and do business with you.' Then the 20th anniversary came up. I said, 'I gotta try it again.'"

But Raekwon seems skeptical: "[RZA's] plan was to do a more humble album. We was like, 'Nah.'"

The Wu-Tang Clan's most successful full-length recording was 1997's Wu-Tang Forever, their second release, which topped the album charts in the US and the UK. The group's members have sold about 40m albums worldwide.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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