For some reason I have found myself listening to the work of the members of The Wu-Tang clan a lot recently. Mind you, I have not been listening to any collaborative Wu-Tang albums, but instead the solo works of the various members, which is quite an overwhelming endeavor. I really like Wu-Tang, but it is difficult to sift through some of the muck and mire that has been by the various members over the years. For instance, say I wanted to get a greater base of knowledge on Inspectah Deck’s body of work. I have to then decide which of his FIVE studio releases I am going to try to dig into. I can look at other people’s ratings of his albums all I want, but rap is just such a crap shoot anyway, there is no way I am going to be successful finding what I’m looking for.
Since I am just starting to make progress of Wu-Tang solo albums, most of what follows is more of a list of some of my all-time favorite Wu-Tang member’s offerings, and not so much any hidden gems that I have found. Maybe once I am all the way through the solo catalogues I will be able to offer a LxListening Wu-Tang sequel. Enjoy.
RZA – “Build Strong”
Many years ago, Digital Bullet was one of my first forays into the solo work of Wu-Tang members. “Build Strong” happens to be Bobby Digital’s (RZA’s alter ego for this album) crowning achievement amongst a lot of solid tracks on this album. The combination of some delicate piano with the extremely candid lyrics (“drugs, money, sex…this s**t just ain’t fulfillin’ me”) of RZA on “Build Strong” sets it apart from most of this era’s Wu-Tang offerings.
Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Coochie”
Alright, so ODB was dead when “Coochie” was released on The Black Keys’ hip-hop venture with Damon Dash. It doesn’t matter. The Black Keys may set up ODB and Ludacris’ verses on this track, but the MC’s take Dan Auerbach’s phenomenal atmospheric guitar to the next level. Never has a posthumous bit of free-flow been used so skillfully.
GZA – “Living In the World Today”
This track is probably my favorite, and one of the more unheralded, off of Liquid Swords. I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is about this one that grabs me, but I think it may just be how the beat allows GZA to just rock back and forth from couplet to couplet flawlessly. GZA rarely “over-raps” his beats, and “Living in the World Today” is a perfect example of that.
Ghostface Killah feat. Raekwon – “Kilo”
By far my personal favorite Wu-Tang member, “Kilo” is one of the many crowned jewels off of Ghost’s masterwork, Fishscale. I would actually throw Fishscale’s hat in the ring against any hip-hop album of the aughts, but this is more of a venue for me to gush over “Kilo”, than Fishscale as a whole. First, “Kilo” is kind of like a Sesame Street-esque educational piece for all the metrically-challenged aspiring drug dealers out there. Second, Ghostface Killah’s flow is relentless on this track, proving he is one of the most underrated MC’s around.
U-God – “Dat’s Gangsta”
U-God doesn’t get a lot of pub outside of his work with Wu, but he is a pretty good MC that has had to work with some pretty underwhelming material production-wise. I will probably never listen to a whole U-God album again, but I will listen to “Dat’s Gangsta”, because if someone asks me what song it is then I can say “DAT’S GANGSTA”.