Wu-Tang Clan :: 8 DiagramsSRC RecordsAuthor: Arthur GailesIt's inevitable that every Wu-Tang release will be compared to "36 Chambers," one of the greatest albums to be released in any genre. Even comparisons to "Wu-Tang Forever" or any number of classic solo albums are daunting. Albums like "The W" and "Iron Flag" have been shunned by fans, not because they're bad albums, but because they simply don't reach the same plateau of their earlier records."8 Diagrams" strikes a balance: while not possessing the effortless greatness of their first two records, it shows a sense of purpose and direction not seen in their last two.
Review Summary: An older more experienced set from Shaolin's finest.Over the years since the classic "Enter the Wu-Tang (The 36th Chamber)" it is safe to say that a unanimous feeling of disappointment has been felt with the release of every album billed as a full Wu-Tang Clan joint. While "Wu-Tang Forever" was successful in reimagining the Wu-Tang sound, following releases especially "Iron Flag" were panned for their poor production, excess tracks, and random Wu-Tang "affiliates". But, for some reason all of us Wu-faithful heard about "8 Diagrams" and expected something amazing.
Six years after their last album, much has changed for the Clan. Sure, ODB died, but that ain’t the half of it. Producer RZA — geeked off his recent soundtrack work (Ghost Dog, Kill Bill) — is mucking about with live instruments and limp beats. The result is a drab dilution of the Wu’s signature sample-heavy, raucous sound on 8 Diagrams.
To expect Iron Flag Part 2 would be wrong. 2001 marked the last time the Wu-Tang Clan swarmed as one, Flag an assault of poisonous darts shot over streetwise RZA bangers. Six years later, fifth WTC LP 8 Diagrams pops vintage Shaolin lyrical heat, "Take It Back" prepping a firing line of "Wolves" in feeding frenzy. Opener "Campfire" burns slow as Method Man and Ghostface tag-team a haunting beat, even depleted Wu MC chemistry rivaled only by Tribe's Q-Tip and Phife.
One minute into 8 Diagrams, a sludge guitar strum, doo-wop rhythm section and gospel vocals circle around some Kung Fu dialogue about the importance of kindness. Method Man hops on the ensuing beat continuing his recent blaze: "Still got a wicked flow / I'm like Barry Bonds on anything that RZA throw." Ghost takes the baton repeating the last line, "On anything that RZA throw / Ironman invisible.” The line speaks volumes about the first Wu-Tang Clan album in six years: This is Bobby Digital's show. The Abbot's wild style peaks on 8 Diagrams, melding true-school beats with an array of instruments (seething horns, vibrating harpsichords, lots of guitar) while conducting liturgical crooners and ghetto divas on almost every track.