Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Better Tomorrow - Wu-Tang Clan

This is the first Wu-Tang album in over seven years. Yes, it came out last month, but I've been listening to it and think I can do an accurate review of it now. This is also my second Wu-view. I was kind of excited for this, thought when you get excited for a group that's been around for while sometimes it's disappointing. Something that made me less cynical for this album was that Mandatory Fun was excellent and that Ruckus In B Minor was great also. Also I thought it was pretty cool to find out Adrian Younge's band played on some of these tracks. For the sake of being redundant I'm gonna leave the RZA produced tracks blank, in terms of reference. But I figured get this done, and also do the Panda Bear one, and maybe Marilyn Manson's new album.
  1. Ruckus In B Minor: This opens the album and was co-produced with Rick Rubin. Lately he's been doing a great job on tracks he's been making. The thing is he's not new. He's been at least producing since 1986's Reign In Blood and producing hip-hop since the Beastie Boys. I really like how ODB was sampled for this track, and he doesn't really sounds sampled. I also like how the band in the back plays so hard, and the Wu go just as hard. I also love that rotor organ sound that plays behind RZA's part where he kind of reminds me a little of I Can't Go To Sleep. It's very much so a stretch, but he just does the way he's angry sounding. Also the whole chorus with the arpeggios and the keys it's so fricken great. The only bad part is I don't dig the edit that has the song stop then start again. That could have segued together better. And not right before RZA's part, I mean when it completely stops. At least the earlier part the was someones voice filling the silence.I do like how it sounds like it's getting played backwards too. It's overall a great track.
  2. Felt: I mean this track sounds like they sampled Peeping Tom, even down to the vocals in the track. Not the rapping, the backing vocals (so to say). This just ins't really a track I care for very much.
  3. 40th Street Black / We Will Fight: Produced by Mathematics, with a co-producer credit to RZA. This track really is kind of disappointing. Okay look, this might not be looking very bright for this record. Keep that mind mind, that I said that. It's actually kind of funny I mention Al in the opening paragraph, this song sounds like a school fight song they sampled. You know kind of like Sports Song. I don't dig these horns, I mean I think they rap pretty good, but the horns and the music and the whole RZA chorus thing just keeps me out of the track. Also I was proud that I picked up on the Shaft Theme sample in this track, though second and third time through I couldn't hear it again. I didn't pick up on the Liquid Swords sample.
  4. Mistaken Identity: The beginning of this track kinds of reminds me a little of Frank Ocean. I'm also really diggin' the instrumentation choice in this track. The vamp is pretty solid. While I'm not in love with it, I still dig it. Also love the Echoes-esque guitar, and the organ in this. I also like how the melody changes a little for each MC's part. That's how you make a great track, you don't over do the same thing over and over till it's at nausea. I do enjoy this track and I can tell the more I listen the more I like it. This track made up for the last track. {7/10}
  5. Hold The Heater: I've heard this opening before, not exactly the intro, but the sample sounds like something I can't quite remember right now. You know, I don't know, this track isn't that bad. I think the more I listen to it the more I'll like it because it has potential. I'm digging the flows and the drums on this track. The only thing is that thing that sounds like a zip-zip-zip thing. But you know that might grow on me. No Love Deep Web did. Not crazy about that "bonus track" type ending. I know they did that in the past, but I didn't like the way the guitar sounded, or say was mixed.
  6. Crushed Egos: This track has a co-producer credit to Younge, and thee main is RZA. This is a terrible thing. I hate having my ego crushed. I like the way the song opens, it reminds me of 36 Chambers. This is another solid track that I think takes multiple listens to fully get.
  7. Keep Watch:  This was produced by Mathematics. This is another solid track that I actually enjoy, I mean it's a little repetitive, but it hasn't gotten old yet. There's a part, toward the end of the first verse where he says "damn". It reminds me a lot of Eminem like on Love Game or something like that. Whatever. I like the way GZA sounds on this track. This is a pretty good track though. I just don't have a ton to say about it.
  8. Miracle: Produced  by 4th Disciple, and co-producer credit to RZA. This is the controversial, or the laughed at song, on this album. I think it's a pretty good song, with the exception of maybe the chorus. You know I don't think this song is all that bad. I mean seriously, skip that chorus and it's a hard hitter. Yes it is a little long, but I still think it's a pretty decent track. If the hook wasn't repeated so many times maybe. Also I like the whole slowed down more industrial version of it towards the end.
  9. Preacher's Daughter: The weird thing about this is the hook quotes one of my favorite songs ever. I'm not kidding, just about any version of the song I like. Nancy's, Dusty's and so on. This is actually, minus the kind of hilarious rewording of the famous chorus, an awesome track. I really think everyone does a great job here and this whole track is so solid. Once I realized what the hook was saying I had to laugh. This shows that they aren't all that bad. They can still make some solid tracks.
  10. Pioneer of the Frontier: This track samples Mr. Sandman by Method Man and two track from 36 Chambers, Protect Ya Neck and Da Mystery of Chestboxin'. See this bring to mind that whole call back, full circle thing that makes this a perfect last album. I think this might be a little cluttered, but I still like it. This is a very large sounding thing, it also sounds heavy, but I think it a little too slow. Maybe if it was a little shorter.
  11. Necklace: The second and last 4th Disciple producer credit. I'm not huge on this track, but I like how it kind of tells a story. This sounds like a sonic continuation of the last track. Kind of cluttered, its slow, and sounds heavy. Not like heavy metal, just like it's bloated. I also think that intro sound clip was played a few too many times. Kind of like the hook in Miracle.
  12. Ron O'Neal: This is an okay song. I mean I'm not huge on it, but I do think the organ in its cool and I like the guitars tone in this song, but for whatever reason it just doesn't click with me. The vocals on this track are by far my biggest problem, and it says they're sung by Nathaniel. Maybe it has to do with the fact I don't really like the movie, not music it's great, Super Fly. Shaft was all around better and all the Pam Grier movies have her in them, usually naked. So...... I think Assassination Day used the sample better. This track needs more energy to be great.
  13. A Better Tomorrow: Love the intro with the beautiful piano. There is another track titled this from 1997's Wu-Tang Forever. To be honest, this is a great track and I dig the other one too. After the last track this is a huge change. This is a very happy song, not lyrically, but it just sounds so... they bring up a ton of problems and this music just makes it like "we can over come this". I also love how the song the sampled, Wake Up has to do with tomorrow. Waking up to a better tomorrow. I don't know, i feel like if someone was depressed and they listened to this song they'd feel comfort. Not just in terms of "this is happy" in terms of "a deeper comfort". Also love the "backwards" part, I kinda giggled. And like the "King" drop to kind to prelude the next track.
  14. Never Let Go: The biggest down side is the almost minute long intro. This is a pretty "epic" track to follow that beautiful one. This track samples Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech in the intro. This, while it was intentional or not, reminds me of I Can't Go To Sleep. On that track they mention "Jessie" and "King" and what not. I do love the saxophones or horns in this track. Also dig the whole choir thing in the middle of the song.
  15. Wu-Tang Reunion: Gather the children and have them listen up. With a track like this I hope this is the last Wu-Tang album. Why do I say such a thing, well... this is such a fricken great finale. Kind of like the final track on Sabbath's last album 13. That album ended with the rain, which was kind of like a call back to their first album. This album is a reunion of sorts for the whole group. The group that was so strong on their first album, and because of that , and the warm feeling you get from this track, I hope this is the last track the Wu-Tang make. I mean, I could cry it's a beautiful ending. Also this samples Family Reunion by the O'Jays and Protect Ya Neck and Reunited (a lyrical one) by da Wu and has a Raekwon sample Glaciers of Ice.
Overall I have to this this album a 7/10. While the album had highlights, they were also lowlights. I do hope this is the last album, not because it was horrible or because they'll never live up to it. I just feel like this is an appropriate final chapter.

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