Release Date: Feb 16, 2010
Record label: Gold Dust
Wu-Tang :: Return of the Wu & FriendsGold Dust Media/!K7 Label GroupAuthor: Steve 'Flash' JuonThe Wu-Tang Clan has been revamping for a while now. While some of their changes have been perceived as a huge step backwards others have been recognized as a much needed evolution in the Wu-Tang sound and style. It's a very delicate balancing act for the Wu crew given their worldwide fanbase developed in the early and mid-1990's, and many of those die-hard fans would still prefer every song had RZA's rugged production and a slew of martial arts movie samples.
Return of the Wu & Friends is another showcase for the Shaolin crew’s DJ and producer Mathematics, and falls right in line with his previous feature, 2007’s Unreleased. Pulled from the years 2000 to 2008, this one has the benefit of a couple more years of source material, but with a new radio show focusing on the crew, plus some prime productions just in the can, Mathematics was certainly on a Wu high as the album saw release. His work on opening cuts “Clap 2010” and “Respect 2010” tops anything on Unreleased and unexpectedly, second-line member Masta Killa delivers one of the key tracks with “It’s What It Is”, a powerful mix of bright horns, karate movie samples, and high-kickin’ lyrics that “leave you with a mouth full of murder sauce”.
Supergroups always release compilations like this. You know the kind. The releases are usually full of B-sides, remixes, re-recording, re-mastered, demo-versions, outtakes, etc. Those left over tracks sitting on hard drives or in tape canisters in some vault or studio storage room. Usually, you can ….
Anyone who's followed Wu-Tang throughout this millennium knows that the Clan's DJ Mathematics is the proper heir to RZA's Wu production throne, and his new compilation only reinforces this. [rssbreak] While RZA's off hobnobbing with Tarantino and making cameos in Apatow flicks, Mathematics has dutifully maintained that crusty, 36 Chambers-era Shaolin sound, and the rest of the Clan happily obliges him with equally gutter guest shots. One issue: at least half of the album is recycled.
Even those most well-versed in all things Wu-Tang Clan could be forgiven for checking out this album title and thinking, "didn't this come out two years ago?" That's less a joke at the expense of Wu odds-and-sods collections than a legit point of clarification: This is literally a sequel of sorts to the deceptively similar Mathematics Presents: Wu-Tang and Friends Unreleased collection from 2007. But even if there is a tacit acknowledge that the Wu market is defined by insatiable demand, such collections should come equipped with a purpose-- either as a primer for novices (like 2008's Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan), or full of obscurities for Wu fans. We'd say Return of Wu and Friends fails spectacularly on both counts, but it's a shame to waste the term "spectacular" on such a mundanely depressing, blatant cash-in.