March 30, 2010

My Gut Reaction: Method Man, Ghostface Killah, & Raekwon - Wu-Massacre (March 30, 2010)


When the concept of Wu-Massacre was announced last year, I shrieked like a little schoolgirl. What Wu stan wouldn't? A collaborative effort by three members of the Wu-Tang Clan, as opposed to yet another solo album? The posse cuts on the solo albums were typically the highlight anyway: the members of the Wu-Tang Clan sounded (mostly) good alone, but when combined with their brethren, it was akin to mixing chemicals and having the beaker explode with joy and/or spunk. So when I first heard that Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and Raekwon would be joining forces to battle the dark side, I was, obviously, excited. There was even an article where Ghost was quoted as saying that these three are not forming a new group, because they were already in the Clan, leading me to believe that Wu-Massacre wouldn't betray the original intentions of the Wu: to take over the game using creativity instead of cliché.


Wu-Massacre quickly jumped to the top of the list of Wu-Tang Clan projects that I actually wanted to hear. (Astute followers of HHID will notice that, as of this writing, I still haven't written about Ghost's Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry In Emerald City, the posthumous Ol' Dirty Bastard “album”, or Inspectah Deck's Manifesto. Just because I love the Wu doesn't mean that I need to go batshit crazy about every album, you know. I still haven't reviewed the first Afro Samurai soundtrack, either.)


And then the concerns started appearing.


First of all, Wu-Massacre was going to be released on Def Jam Records, a label that (a) has had issues in the past with marketing Method Man and Ghostface Killah albums (Raekwon is essentially an A-list indie rapper), and (b) sucks balls today, with its emphasis on artists such as Rick Ross. But that was still workable, because Def Jam is still a major, and that just means that there may be more facings of Wu-Massacre on store shelves at Best Buy. This could still work.


And then the tracklisting leaked. Wu-Massacre only features twelve tracks, two of which are (what I assume as unnecessary) skits. Ten tracks total. Well, that isn't a big deal, right? Put our three hosts on every track, with the occasional guest (names such as Deck and (ugh, really?) Cappadonna were thrown about), and ten tracks could stretch out fairly easily. It's better to have Wu-Massacre half short and twice strong, right? All killer, no filler?


When I read about who would be contributing beats to Wu-Massacre, a sinking feeling started to seep in, because the only person I actually wanted to see on the fucking album, The Rza, only handled the beat on one song. I realize that the guy is busy, but if music is his first love, one would think that Bobby Digital would have some extra instrumentals lying around in the lab that he could hand over to the guys he broke through with. But, sadly, even this is something I can work around: it isn't as if The Rza is known these days to handle an entire album that isn't his own.


Man, Wu stans can rationalize everything, can't they?


Excitement on the Interweb reached a boiling point when the album artwork leaked, as it is fucking badass. Comic book fans especially were thrown for a loop, as Wu-Massacre now held the promise of being the comeback Wu-Tang Clan album that fans have been waiting for ever since the disappointing (to everyone else, maybe, but not me) 8 Diagrams dropped. Even with Def Jam leaking single after single to various blogs, I remained as amped up for Wu-Massacre as I was for the Slaughterhouse album. There was no way that this album could be a complete fuck-up, right?


And then Wu-Massacre rushed out of the faucet. And mixed in with the praise of Meth, Ghost, and Rae's latest opus were some very detailed criticisms of the project.


And then Method Man apologized for Wu-Massacre, saying that Def Jam rushed the final product (which is weird, since it was originally supposed to drop back in December but was pushed back to today) and that he, Ghost, and Rae didn't get to make the album that they wanted. Meth also told whoever would listen that there wasn't a time when all three rappers appeared in the same room together while creating Wu-Massacre, as they were all busy with other commitments (Rae, in particular, was too busy pimping Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...Pt. II). It was also revealed that our three hosts for the evening had nothing to do with the promotion for the album: the label took the reigns and handled it all, implying that they also had no input on the cool-as-fuck artwork and that Wu-Massacre, as a whole, was a Def Jam construct more so than an actual album.


Fuck.


1. CRIMINOLOGY 2.5
I remember when “Criminology 2” (or “Criminology '09”) first hit the Interweb as a way to promote Raekwon's last album Return To Relevancy. I even mentioned in the comment box (back when I still had one, before it just became ridiculous to maintain) that I was underwhelmed. Today, I still am, but the funny thing, is, this is an entirely different song. While there isn't any way to top the original (from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...), a good effort would have, I don't know, actually included Raekwon, since it's his fucking song and all; instead, he appears to have gone A.W.O.L. on the very first track on Wu-Massacre. (Which is even weirder when you consider that Ghostface Killah is speaking directly to the Chef at the beginning of the track.) For the record, “Criminology '09” adhered very closely to its predecessor's formula, with BT's beat trying its best to not flat-out copy The Rza's handiwork, and the original “Criminology 2.5” that Def Jam leaked to Blogland was “Criminology '09” with a Method Man homage to the original track tacked onto the end: the version that actually made the final cut retains Meth's verse, erases Rae (that's right, regardless of how it reads on the back cover, the Chef fails to appear on this track), and alters Ghostface entirely: instead of his original contribution, his verse from Rae's “The Badlands” (a European bonus track from Return To Relevancy) opens the album instead. What the fuck? The fact that all three stars now fail to appear on the very first fucking song on Wu-Massacre concerns me more than a little bit.


2. MEF VS. CHEF 2
For the most part, the Wu-Tang Clan don't do well with sequels. (I'm talking about sequels to individual songs, not album titles.) So kicking off Wu-Massacre with two follow-up tracks is uncharacteristic at beat. The appeal of the first “Mef Vs. Chef” (from Tical) was the lyrical battle that sounded as though The Rza recorded the two participants inside an actual boxing ring, as Meth and Rae went toe to toe, bar for bar (at least, until Rae flubbed his lines and threw the fight, a curious goof that Meth included on the album anyway). The Mathematics beat doesn't even try to approximate Prince Rakeem, meaning that both artists (Ghostface Killah, seemingly upset that his name isn't in the title of the song, rightfully sits this one out) are stuck passing the mic back and forth over a truly shitty instrumental, rendering all of their rhymes inconsequential. So far, this album is making my soul cry.


3. YA MOMS SKIT
Entirely unnecessary. Oh, I get it: they're trying to recreate the feeling of listening to the skit that preceded “Method Man” on Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) for the first time. It just isn't funny.


4. SMOOTH SAILING REMIX (FEAT SOLOMON CHILDS & STREETLIFE)
After finishing the sandwich that he picked up from a street vendor during the last track, Ghost tags Raekwon out and spits over a Ty Fyffe instrumental that he sounds custom built for. I'm not sure where the original version of this song ended up, but this remix would have worked better has Solomon Childs been erased from the master tapes, since his chorus is altogether terrible. Meth's boy Streetlife, who makes his obligatory appearance because this is, in fact, a Method Man album in some fashion, also performs an embarrassing verse, attempting to drop the names of all of the Wu members in a clever way, coming across as a mentally retarded follower of The Game. Dude, you've been rhyming since Tical: there's no excuse for you to sound like a fucking rookie now.


5. OUR DREAMS
Finally, Wu-Massacre supplies listeners with a song that features all three of our hosts: fittingly enough, this is where The Rza puts in his only work behind the boards, flipping Michael Jackson's “We're Almost There” (are MJ's younger recordings less expensive than his post-Off The Wall output? Would this song have even happened had Jackson not passed away last year? Who knows?) into what I believe is one of his most boring beats ever. (Some would call this the work of a more mature Wu-Tang Clan. To that I say: who in the hell wants to hear a more mature Wu-Tang Clan?) Ghost, Meth, and Rae all mesh with the dull instrumental fairly effortlessly, though, so that counts for something. But this shit did absolutely nothing for me. Okay, I lied: the video for this song actually made me laugh, as its homage to David Fincher's Seven (which still holds up, by the way) has absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter.


6. GUNSHOWERS (FEAT INSPECTAH DECK & SUN GOD)
Digem's awkward, intermittent beat might have worked for a hungry mixtape rapper, but not for these established veterans. Rae takes yet another nap (I hope he gets his narcolepsy treated very soon, as I'm getting worried for his well-being) while Meth channels the late Russell Jones on the hook. Ghostface Killah suffers through a cold or something: his verse sounds as though it was performed by Cappadonna. Sun God tries yet again to earn his father's respect, but Ghost pays no attention, of course, because he was nursing the sniffles. In a shocking turn of events, Inspectah Deck atones for the crappy The Resident Patient 2 by actually sounding decent. But when you do okay work on a shitty song, does anybody ever truly hear it?


7. DANGEROUS
Right now, I'm upset that all of the tracks Def Jam leaked to the Interweb from Wu-Massacre implied that Meth, Ghost, and Rae would appear on every song. I'm considering filing a lawsuit against Def Jam for false advertising. It would be one thing if this was a Method Man solo album “featuring Ghostface Killah and Raekwon”, but they all share equal billing, so what the hell, man? Anyway, this song is pretty awful. Apparently, the Wu-Tang Clan that I've grown up with has been badgered into recording material that the label thought would result in more sales, regardless of how well they fit into the Wu canon. Suckers! Nobody buys Wu-Tang Clan albums in 2010!


8. PIMPIN' CHIPP
In what is a bad sign for the trio but a good look for fans of Ghostface Killah, Tony Starks rides for dolo on yet another of his patented storytelling film treatment raps, one that doesn't sound quite as good as his past work, but is still quite enjoyable, as it probably would have fit in well on The Big Doe Rehab. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to discover that Wu-Massacre was made up solely of outtakes from the solo albums of our three hosts. The coda on here threw me off, but the tale itself was alright.


9. HOW TO PAY RENT SKIT (FEAT TRACY MORGAN)
What the fuck?


10. MIRANDA
This sounds as though it was dropped from the final tracklisting of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...Pt. II. The Mathematics piano loop does not grow annoying over time, and Rae, Ghost, and Meth all shoot the shit about women (or possibly the same girl). This was actually pretty ill: easily the best song on Wu-Massacre thus far. Hell, this will probably end up being the best song overall, seeing as though there are only two songs left.


11. YOUNGSTOWN HEIST (FEAT TRIFE DA GOD, SHEEK LOUCH, & BULLY)
In what is probably another leftover from a Ghost solo project, Pretty Toney leaves Method Man and Raekwon stranded on the side of the highway while his friends from the old neighborhood plan a robbery. There's nothing inherently wrong with this track, aside from the fact that it betrays the concept of Wu-Massacre: in fact, I found it kind of entertaining. I'm led to believe that a collaborative effort between Ghostface Killah and The Lox may prove more fruitful, relevant, and profitable than this album, though. Come on, you know you two have thought of the same idea before.


12. IT'S THAT WU SHIT
Wu-Massacre ends abruptly not with a posse cut or a sound bite from a kung-fu flick, but with a track that sounds the least like a Wu-Tang Clan song in the group's lengthy history. Ghost and Meth attempt to throw listeners some lyrical darts, but end up cowering in fear behind the oppressive Scram Jones regime of a beat. I believe that there is no worse way for this album to have ended, and I've listened to a lot of garbage because of this blog. I actually feel betrayed.


THE LAST WORD: What the fuck have I just suffered through? When Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and Raekwon announced their Wu-Massacre project last year, I admit my expectations may have been raised artificially higher than they should have been (I was still riding the high from Raekwon's comeback project), but the only thing that these three manage to massacre is the idea that anybody in the Wu-Tang Clan is still capable of recording a quality piece of work. Almost every single song on Wu-Massacre fucking sucks: every track sounds as though it was patched together in a hurry (which, admittedly, they were), as though Def Jam was putting together a mixtape to advertise a future joint album between these three, but no, this is the actual final product, and man, is it fucking disappointing. Having an “album” of this magnitude come in at less than thirty minutes in length is very fucking questionable. The idea of limiting yourself to only ten tracks is admirable only if most of the songs click. It seems that Def Jam put more thought into the (awesome) album artwork than it did the actual music on the plastic disc within the jewel case. Raekwon only appears on four out of twelve tracks: that may prove to be the smartest move he has made in his entire career. The brunt of this travesty is handled by Ghostface (nine tracks) and Method Man (eight tracks), which makes sense when you consider that these two are actual Def Jam employees, but they clearly were not entirely focused on what they were doing. Wu-Tang Clan fans will snatch this up anyway, but I'm here to warn you that you will not enjoy it. (Remember, nobody purchases albums just so they can have the artwork.) All Wu-Massacre has done is piss me off. All I can hope is that Rae, Meth, and Ghost atone for their misdeeds very soon, preferably on an indie label that won't fucking rush the product.


I realize that a large number of music critics are jumping aboard the Wu-Massacre bandwagon, possibly in an attempt to trick consumers into actively supporting artists who actually deserve the attention. While that is an admirable reason, and while I would love to see Wu-Massacre move more than one million units (as it may convince Def Jam to release more of these type of projects), I can't recommend that you two actively seek this album, as the path will lead only to sadness. Sigh.


WISHFUL THINKING: Since we've seen the worst of what the Wu has to offer, the next logical step would be to try this concept again, but this time with Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, and Gza/Genius. Not only would a collaboration between these three be easier to pull off (none of them are signed with a major anymore), it could also reignite interest in the unsung heroes of the Clan (yeah, I'm merely including Deck in that category because of his past work and not his current output). They could even use the Three The Hard Way crew moniker that Meth, Ghost, and Rae were going to originally call themselves. If they take their time and hire quality producers (I'm realistic, so not every track needs to be handled by The Rza, but the Clan's leader should do more than just one fucking track) and convince the other group members to stop by and drop a verse or two, they could create a companion piece to Wu-Massacre that could eradicate the memory of what I just listened to and reinvent the Wu-Tang Clan at the same time. Just a thought, fellas.


-Max


RELATED POSTS:
Catch up on the Wu by clicking here. You may want to set aside a day or two: there's a lot of posts about the Clan. I'm just saying.

32 comments:

  1. I agree completely.

    What a disappointment.

    As for your Deck/Masta Killa/GZA album, that would be great. But, sadly, that album is destined to remain in my dreams. Right alongside the Nas/Primo LP.

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  2. Boy oh boy was this disappointing. I can't believe this album was put out this way and I can't believe I went out and picked it up only hours into its release.

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  3. Just like you said, these were all rejects from their recent solo albums. Seriously, what the fuck did I just go through? I'm glad I gave it a spin online before even thinking of picking this up. I can't fucking believe what I'm hearing, especially after the high that I felt from OB4CL2

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  4. dope album, listened to it 3 times so far.
    raekwon or whoever is running his twitter accnt promoted wu-massacre heavily along with pics and video making of the cover

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  5. I didn't think it was AS bad as you did, but definitely too short and extremely disappointing. After listening to The Manifesto though, this sounds like 36 Chambers. Oh, and what the fuck was that last song? I never thought I'd hear a Wu take on "Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye"

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  6. Man, fuck. I was really hoping that this and the new Rebel INS album (obviously, I'm a sucker for rappers who last showed talent a dozen years ago)along with OB4CL2 would bring back some sort of Wu Renaissance. Even after Manifesto was panned by everyone, I still held out hopes for this shit. But if THE Wu-Tang stan can't get into this album, well, there's no hope for me. Love the idea Max, except for the fact that it would also be a shimmering pile of elephant feces, and complete the process of the Wu massacring all of hope for hip hop.

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  7. Thanks for shattering my dreams...

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  8. The wu-tang could still put out a great album. . but i'm more than happy listening to the old shit that rza produced, mixed and arranged in his basement with specific vocal compressors for each different clan member. . how could you beat that? the rza was on a mission and its completed.

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  9. This album is so fucking terrible...

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  10. The first two songs are sequels followed by a skit and then a remix. By the time you actually start paying attention this album is already over. When you only got 12 songs on an album they better be dope but its not.

    Oh and the artwork rocks. I was surprised to find out that Chris Bachalo was the artist. He has put out some really really crappy work in the past. and yeah i *used to* read comics...

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  11. cuban link 2 is still overrated as fuck

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  12. UnstoppableMarch 31, 2010

    Where the hell is that "Made Men" bonus track??

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  13. i was also disapointed that :

    a) the 3 weren't on every track
    b) it's very short
    c) indeed there seem to be some leftovers included from solos

    and i also believe they should do this again with more time and more control and no Def Jam input aside artwork and budget

    BUT ... I liked the album nevertheless and been listening constantly to it . There, I said it . lol

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  14. 100% agree with you Max, what a bitch move by Def Jam, wetting Wu-Fans appetites like hell and then rush this crap to the stores.

    Miranda and Youngtown Heist are the only good tracks and those would be fillers on the album i expected from those 3 heavyweights!

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  15. Agree for the most part, although I'm NOT feeling Miranda and I think you're underplaying Pimpin Chipp...it's like a glossier version of Shakey Dog and was really the only bright spot on the album

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  16. I agree. OB4CL... Part 2 was greatly overrated.

    Just like All Eyez On Me, The 7 Day Theory, Life After Death, Stillmatic, Chronic 2001 and Blueprint, that because there was so much anticipation building up for the album that when it dropped it became one of those albums that was quickly elevated to classic status.

    I'm not saying all these CDs don't have good song songs... I mean they all have great songs. I just don't think they were albums that could be completely listened to (all the way through) without wanted to pass songs. And I think that that is really what a classic is.


    oh....and I was really disappointed with this album. But I downloaded it first to give it a run through. I downloaded it just before I started reading the individual track comments but I had a feeling it was going to suck because I did not like Mef vs. Chef 2

    And what's RZA's deal? I mean DJ Premier and Pete Rock and Large Pro would more than likely be willing (or more wanting) to whip up tons of tracks with that old school sound if Nas said he wanted to make another Illmatic. I mean when people buy Wu Solo albums most of them are still wanting that Enter The Wu, Liquid Swords, OB4CL sound..... That gritty, raw beat that only the RZA can do, especially for a whole album.... but every time... nothing. Man if I had been involved in classics like those and someone was planning on making a sequel... I'd be more than willing to duplicate the sound.


    But maybe that's just me.

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  17. A.R. MarksMarch 31, 2010

    At the release party RZA just announced they're working on a new Wu group album. He and Ghostface are talking about it; seeing as Ghost wasn't satisfied with (apparently) ANY Wu group album after 36 Chambers it seems like good news if he's going to make sure the rest of the Clan gets input.

    Plus we'll hear Deck over more RZA beats (which is the only time he still sounds really good) and imo most of the best Wu-Tang group songs were ones with Ghostface on 'em anyways.

    So fingers are being crossed.

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  18. I thought Mef Vs. Chef 2 was pretty good, if not incredibly short. Mathematics did the best job on this album. Even RZA's contribution sucks. Actually, there's a remix of 'Our Dreams', with Alicia Keys, different beat, which sounds better than original, although the chorus is still way to shitty to even begin with.

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  19. Oh, and since I'm not going to waste any time on Reader Review, I'll just say one thing about Criminology 2,5: Since Criminology 2.0, the sample was too boring to even begin with, but one verse from Raekwon and one from Ghostface were decent, especially since calm loop complimented Rae's spitting. Then, the original Criminology 2,5 leaked, with original verses from Rae and Ghost, PLUS Ghostface 'Badlands' verse and Meth's contribution. BT's production is still energetic-yet-sleep-inducing (Actually, this is quite the same issue I've had with Guillotine [Swordz], although to MUCH lesser degree: the loop just didn't quite retained the fury of drums and lyrics). It made no fucking sense, but then, it was reduced to THIS shit, which makes even LESS fucking sense than the original 'Two and the half', considering 1) that Raekwon, the guy who appeared on 4 out of 10 songs here, was cut, and 2) Who the fuck cuts a song in half on album WHICH ENDS AT THIRTY MINUTES?!

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  20. I think the build up and eventual aftermath of the release of this 'album' is evidence that Def Jam is just EVIL.

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  21. It's short yes. And i'm also very dissapointed but its not that bad, coulda been better but not as bad as your all saying.

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  22. Continuing the Wu tradition of disappointing fans……just think about how many times you’ve been let down compared to the times you’ve been impressed. At least we’re not wasting money on this shit anymore.

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  23. Ive always wanted a GZA, Meth, and Deck album. But more than that I want a good Wu album.

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  24. dont play yourself idiot, this album is not bad at all, and you know it

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  25. This album is so horribly mixed that it almost makes my ears bleed.

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  26. Twin ghost xperience album -styles p and ghostface. thats what the fuck i wanna hear.

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  27. I heard they didn't get the studio time they wanted for this. Meth said the whole thing was rushed, and he didn't expect it to be of the same caliber of the older Wu-Tang albums.

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  28. think you're expecting too much.....

    Gunshowers, youngtown heist, meth vs chef p2 are all amazing bangers! I find it appalling they took raekwon off HIS song. It was a decent banger with all 3 spitting raw, especially meth.

    It doesn't sound like a wu album though, especially the beats, but for what they had, it was a banga.

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  29. RAEKWON recently said:
    "I just came through for them...This is something that Def Jam came up with with Ghostface and they wanted me and Method Man to be a part of it so Ghost called and got the whole movement on that Wu-Massacre album...In my eyes, I wanted to do it independently but this is what Ghost wanted to do -- ['Our Dreams'] was a commercial record that we knew would definitely keep us on the radio at least in the daytime and all of that. But it wasn't really nothing that we felt was top of the line -- we already knew that was gonna be a commercial spin-off for us...Yeah, shout-out Alicia Keys, that's like our sister. She always comes through for us -- she did that on her own, she just showed love out of her own kindness." <--No wonder it fucking sucks!

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  30. Max,

    I'm a diehard Wu fan for a long time and I completely agree with every single line you have written

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  31. even worse than this album are the people who pretended this was good. I know a guy who is a moderator at a retro video game website who made a post sayign "wu is back" and pretending this album was 10/10 classic.

    It's not. THIS ALBUM FUCKING SUCKS BALLS.

    Thank you for being honest, max.

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  32. AnonymousMay 19, 2013

    ^ Was it noise redux?

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