Friday, March 25, 2011

Wu-Tang Clan - 8 Diagrams

The very first time I heard 8 Diagrams, I admit I was disappointed. It sounded, weak, I guess is the word, the first few times I listened to it. A lot of it was minimalistic and stripped down, which was especially surprising after the busy, amped-out flamboyant production of Iron Flag. A lot of it had these big orchestral arrangements with R&B crooners like Eryka Badu and (a feature of hiphop which RZA himself had apparently dissed on the intro to the 2nd disc of Wu-Tang Forever.) It was so unlike anything Wu-Tang had ever put out as an official group project - and it was their first album in 6 years. I wasn't the only one not really feeling it; not just some fans but some members of the Wu-Tang spoke publicly about their dissatisfaction with the album. Let Rae break it down:

It's the perceived shortcomings of 8 Diagrams that led directly to Raekwon's Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang which has been called an unoffical Wu-Tang group project. The title says it all I guess. But after two or three years I've been going back and listening to it and now, I really, really like it. It's not just that music has grown on me - but after I heard RZA on Carry It, it pretty much confirmed something for me about RZA.

The thing is this: RZA is a genius. No doubt about it. The depth and scope of his musical talent is amazing. He had and always will have this massive vision for Wu-Tang - a large part of which has been realized.. He always has had a very clear idea of what he wanted to - both musically and professionally. And unfortunately, having a big vision and single-mindedly aspiring to it will always put you in conflict with other people that don't see what you see, even if they are your fam. and you love them the most. 8 Diagrams is a lot more melodic and finely-crafted and experimental than the previous Wu-Tang albums but it's still pretty good - better than Iron Flag and The W in my opinion.

The only other producer that could/would put out a song like The Heart Gently Weeps is probably Kanye. In fact it was right around the time I started getting in to 808s & Heartbreaks that I put 8 Diagrams back on heavy rotation.

The funny thing is a lot of the real hardcore hiphop fans actually like it - it's something different and progressive and when you decide to be different and progressive you're always gonna have people who don't quite get it.

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