The Wu-Tang Clan’s first album since Ol’ Dirty’s ’04 passing was rife with internal fighting and artistic disputes. Rae and Ghost openly spoke out against RZA; the Chef, frustrated with the album’s production style, accused him of becoming some sort of hip-hop hippie while the latter resented 8 Diagrams’ release date coinciding with The Big Doe Rehab. But looking past all that drama, 8 Diagrams is pretty damn good album.
From a production point of view, it represents RZA at his experimental peak. Long gone are the days of bare-knuckled drum loops, bouncy piano loops and lo-fi basslines. Instead, we’re treated to lush soundscapes with intricate soul grooves, screeching guitar solos, murky funk and George Clinton-styled energy.
As for the rhymes, well, lyrically, the Clan’s never been disappointing and 8 Diagrams proves no different. Ghost and Meth are the shining stars spitting fire everytime they step up (check out the former’s shopping trip gone wrong tale on “The Heart Gently Weeps”), with the rest of the members holding it down.
While Ol’ Dirty’s oomph is missed, 8 Diagrams is still one of the the Clan’s most accomplished work to date, and years from now, I think it’ll eventually be recognised as a shining moment in their discography.