Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off
Man...I remember the first time I heard that pulsating beat on "House of Flying Daggers," and how good it felt to actually be into a new hip-hop album. Back then, it seemed to me that hip-hop truly was dead--five years and MAYBE as many quality albums to show for it in that time. Then this dropped, with damn near the whole Wu in on it, and I felt like, for the first time in a good LONG time, rap may just be redeemed. The production was dark, the rhymes were slick, the whole album oozed attitude and atmosphere, and I was enraptured. Every time I listened to it, I lost myself in its world, sat entranced as the Chef cooked up some heavy ass lines, and had that wonderful feeling, even then, that this album would be something much, much more than simply a good album.
I like to think that that feeling is something like what it might've felt to people in 1994, when B.I.G. and Nas both put out their classics, in a time when hip-hop was still lauded and going strong. I imagine that listening to those albums back then might've left people with the thought that these albums were special to the entire genre, and that they were listening to history, to something whose legacy would be spoken of for years, or even decades, to come.
For me, the legacy of this album, 'OB4CL II', is one of redemption--I believe that hip-hop truly was dead for a bit, and this was the catalyst for its resurrection. This is an album that, beyond being really fucking good, also happens to be a turning point in the direction of an entire genre. After this came Kanye and Distant Relatives and Big Boi and Tech N9ne and Killer Mike and Eminem's renewed inspiration and the thought that, maybe, MAYBE, there may be some life left for hip-hop outside of the backpack.
And who better to do it than the Wu-Tang Clan? If anyone genre needed a boon, it's hip-hop; if any city needed a revival, it's New York; if any group needed a new lease on life, it's the Wu. And this album, this amazing thing that remains even now the hip-hop album I've listened to more than any other in my life, is exactly what they all needed.
...this started out as an explanation of what this album meant to me, but I'm going to post it as a soundoff. Hope it's not too long....
Digging: He Is Legend - Heavy Fruit