The story of the Wu-Tang’s first album in seven years, 21 years after their first, is – like the kung-fu movies they love to sample – one of internecine rivalry, conflict and impenetrable dialogue. The RZA, producer and de facto leader of the legendary rap crew, wanted to make a final record. Raekwon, perhaps the group’s finest rapper, didn’t want to be involved if RZA was the boss. But the two came to a rapprochement, and here we have a bit of a mess that still showcases why Wu-Tang were so great in the first place. You can understand Raekwon’s misgivings; RZA’s chosen musical style here appears to be “mid-paced jam band” which hardly helps in enlivening rappers who give off a distinct vibe of puffy middle age. The better tracks – Necklace, Miracle, 40th Street Black – are produced by others. The strangest thing here is Crushed Egos, which features just RZA and Raekwon. It’s both laconic and shouty and, perhaps fired by all that tension, conjures the swagger of 20 years ago.
Wu-Tang Clan: A Better Tomorrow review – hit-and-miss final reel for legendary rap crew
Paul MacInnes is a reporter for the Guardian