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Wu-Tang Clan: Wu-Tang Forever

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Wu-Tang Clan

Album: Wu-Tang Forever
Label: Loud/RCA

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No one saw Wu-Tang Clan coming in 1993, when its Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) exploded onto the rap scene, shifting its epicenter from Compton to Staten Island and redefining hardcore rap in the process. Unlike Dr. Dre and the rest of the synthesizer-obsessed West Coasters, Wu-Tang Clan—with its spare, hard beats; crackling kung fu samples; and reckless, tag-team delivery—not only talked dirty, but actually sounded dirty. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the hugely anticipated Wu-Tang Forever, which sounds much more conventional and polished than its landmark predecessor. Clocking in at a whopping 112 minutes, the two-CD Forever seems burdened by enormous expectations, serving up an endless string of mid-tempo, one-sample songs in place of the riotous, patched-together sound collage of 36 Chambers. (Kicking off both discs with long, rambling intros doesn't help, either.) It's still a good album—producer RZA fills it with interesting noises throughout, including some great violin and cello samples on tracks like "Reunited" and "Heaterz"—but listening to it, you can't help but wish the group would've just loosened up and raised a little more hell. And Wu-Tang Clan is about the last group in the world you'd expect to hear associated with that sentiment.