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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wu-Tang "Legendary Weapons"

Although they didn't come right out and say it, or stamp a number 2 on the package, it is clear by the formula, production, and even the cover art, that Wu-Tang's "Legendary Weapons" is indeed the sequel to 2009's mildly successful "Chamber Music". With RZA settling on the role of executive producer again, all live music is performed by Brooklyn based band The Revelations while the majority of production is handled by M.O.P.'s Fizzy Womack and Noah Rubin. "Legendary Weapons" boasts an ambiance of dark lush overlays created through the use of crisp live percussion, guitars, fender bass and keys with the occassional oddly intriguing sample. There is substance to be found here, much more than the casual listener will pick up. It is in this aspect that "Legendary Weapons" really shines, the production alone demands multiple listens, which in turn leads to understanding of the lyrics, at times incredibly fun and sometimes potent. That's the good.

Where the LP suffers, is in the same way that other recent offerings from the Clan have suffered, and have caused grumblings from elitist fans. The album is too short. The album feels rushed. The album lacks all the Clan members. The album reuses verses on some tracks, and sounds 'cut and pasted' on others. Undoubtedly this will be the bulk of the negative sentiment...and the haters would be partly right. It is however important to stress that this is not a Wu-Tang Clan album in its strict meaning, but rather something like a "Wu-Tang Presents..." project. The album strives to place the generals of the Clan with Killa Beez like the recently released Killa Sin and popular NYC rappers over Wu sounding tracks.

The negatives described above, however, do not make "L.W." a terrible album at all. Some, if not most, of the mistakes are forgivable, especially to the casual listener. Nitpicking hardcore fans will surely notice Inspectah Deck's reused lyrics from "Manifesto"'s 'Really Real" and one can wonder whether RZA's heart is still in emceeing when noticing his lack of energy on '225 Rounds' and 'Only The Rugged Survive'. Oh well. You can't win 'em all. Structurally, "Weapons" is in many ways a more cohesive album than it's predecessor, which saw interludes narrated by RZA after each and every track. Although The Abbot dropped jewels the interludes were far too many, giving listeners the the feeling of "Oh we're doing this again?" after each song was over. 'LW' has a few skits spattered here and there, but none that take away from its cohesion. The well-thought out sequencing makes the album flow smoothly from beginning to almost end, where RZA's solo track is mired by terrible production. If you're making an iTunes playlist, you can delete that track now, unless you like the shrill sound of Casio brass.

As I have always said, Wu-Tang is like a buffet. There is so much, that you can just take what you want and leave the things you don't like. "Legendary Weapons" is no exception to this rule. Some stuff is Alaskan King Crab and some is crusty three-day-old pudding; it all depends on what you're in the mood for. It's amazing to think that even close to 20 years after breaking on to the scene, Wu-Tang is still a brand you can trust. They continue to release projects that are worth hearing whether you're new to the Clan or copped the "Protect Ya Neck" single straight out of RZA's trunk, and "Legendary Weapons" is no exception although it doesn't stand amongst their greatest work.

40 total points / 10 tracks = 4.0/5

Written by Beautiful Rock
Co-written by claaa7

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