Wu-Tang Clan
Legendary Weapons


3.0
good

Review

by Aziz STAFF
July 27th, 2011 | 26 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I mean it's not 36 Chambers, but

2011 was supposed to be a huge year for the Wu-Tang Clan; fans came into the year expecting sequels to both the remarkable Supreme Clientele and the illustrious Liquid Swords, only to have those plans postponed for Wu-Block and a yet untitled alternate GZA album. Method Man divulged plans for a new album, and Raekwon released Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang in March, announcing another 2011 album shortly thereafter. It’s now nearly August, nothing has yet come to fruition, and ardent fans continue to wait in the murk, desperate for a single word from any of the Clan announcing some good news. Lately it seems like Wu projects just bust onto the scene unannounced, and the group relies on its name to make sales; to a lot of people it seemed like Apollo Kids just sprung out of nowhere when “2getha Baby” was leaked late last year. And now Legendary Weapons, the follow-up to 2009’s Chamber Music, drops almost like the pin in an empty room. Legendary Weapons received very little press, and nobody seemed to put in any advertising work whatsoever, although perhaps that could be attributed less to a secretive and clandestine RZA and more to the fact that Legendary Weapons, like its antecedent, is a compilation album, rather than a full-fledged studio album. Unfortunately, in this case, though the compilation wasn’t exactly made haphazardly, there is a noticeable lack of direction, and that fact spells problems for the Shaolin mob, as it results in a few uninspired verses, and suffers greatly from the absence of both GZA, the group’s nonpareil, and Masta Killa, whose work on recent Wu releases has converted doubters and cemented his name as one of the group’s better rappers.

Musically, Legendary Weapons is a bit of a departure from its predecessor, almost completely omitting the live band approach that Chamber Music subsumed and thrived on. In fact, excluding the iTunes bonus track, The Revelations (the aforementioned live band) don’t seem to make an appearance, and the album’s production comprises most of the familiar Wu-Tang production components: spastic piano loops and drums, strong bass, and of course the ubiquitous kung fu movie sample. As was the case in Chamber Music though, RZA only executive produces the record, leaving the brunt of the beatmaking to Wu-affiliates Noah Rubin, Andrew Kelley, and Fizzy Womack, who are able to capture the staple Wu-sound well. Womack, who had a hand in the production of about half of the tracks on Chamber Music, returns with his compatriot Billy Danze on “Legendary Weapons,” joining Ghostface Killah and AZ as the four spit over a rather weak beat constituted of a simple drumbeat that we’ve all heard before on Wu-Tang joints and a soft, relaxed oriental melody. While Tony Starks and AZ boast smooth flows that both complement and redeem the beat, Fame and Billy, known for their vigorous, almost apocalyptic blazing back-and-forth delivery, unfortunately pull the short end of the stick, having to dilute the energy typically endemic to their rapping styles in favor of more forced and slurred verses, which fit the beat better than their typical fare, but sounds too forced; the result is a title track that is both uninspired and forgettable. Legendary Weapons is a bit bipolar in that regard though, as the preceding track, “The Black Diamonds,” is the obvious highlight of the album, excelling in almost every place “Legendary Weapons” blunders. Its minimalist and eerie piano melody is sublime and indelible, augmenting the track immensely by serving as a perfect supplement to the performers’ flows, of which Killa Sin’s is extraordinary, rivaling the eminent flows of Nas and Meth in its surprising splendor. It’s one of the coolest moments on the album, and – perhaps a bit surprisingly – it doesn’t even come from a Clan member.

Actually, for the most part, the Clan members seem bored, offering lazy verses and often being outshined by the guest artists on the tracks, such as “Meteor Hammer”, in which both Ghostface-sound-a-like Action Bronson and Boston sensation Termanology sound determined to make names for themselves, attacking the beat ruthlessly and stealing the show. It’s not always the case, however, that the Gambinos are outperformed on the tracks; Ghostface, high off of the critical success of Apollo Kids, is the most prominently featured rapper on the album, and with good reason. Starks’ style is a perfect fit with this production style, and the beats are easy for him to maneuver, allowing him to find a strong footing and deliver consummate bars each time he touches the mic. In fact, the Wu-Tang Clan members that one would expect to perform well don’t disappoint; the ever-reliable Raekwon opens the album emphatically, and Method Man’s sovereign swagger and frigid flow flourish in “Diesel Fluid,” his only verse on the compilation, one laden with impressive wordplay and grit. That’s the problem though; the best Clan members are underutilized, and the ones whose talent was questionable in ’93 and is even more unreliable nearly twenty years later (such as the capricious Inspectah Deck, who deceived us all when he wrote some of the best verses on 36 Chambers and then forgot how to rap for a decade) contribute vapid verses that render a few of the tracks all but forgettable. The result is really a hot-and-cold record with just enough substance to warrant a few repeated listens, but not enough to appease avid listeners quite yet.

Perhaps if we hadn’t been inundated with lofty promises and fed the excellence of recent Wu-Tang solo projects, Legendary Weapons would stand out a bit more as one of the better Clan releases of this millennium. The fact of the matter is, 8 Diagrams was too long, and Iron Flag was too hit-or-miss, so yes, Legendary Weapons is one of the better releases featuring the entire group that we’ve seen in a while. Unfortunately, we’ve seen wave after wave of solo projects that seem to blow the group dynamic out of the water; Legendary Weapons offers some certified Wu-bangers, and even the instant-classic “The Black Diamonds,” but sadly it really can’t compare to the recent Raekwon and Ghostface projects, and the dearth of verses from the Clan’s best members (and the absence altogether of the GZA) hurts badly. Ultimately, Legendary Weapons is enough to momentarily quell the demands of Wu-heads worldwide, but the moment is fleeting, as lackluster performances on a couple tracks render them a bit too boring to spend time on, and the tracks that are good aren’t quite good enough to promise any real sort of longevity for the album. It leaves a bittersweet taste in the mouth, but thankfully where the performances aren’t effete, we find a refreshing tang. Legendary Weapons is satisfying enough as a teaser for now, but anticipation can only be growing for the impending wave of solo albums.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
July 27th 2011


6114 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Streaming here: http://www.pedestrian.tv/music/news/stream-wu-tangs-legendary-weapons-in-full-
/48598.htm

Might be my longest review; looks like things are finally starting to come together for me as a
reviewer.

KeithStone582
July 27th 2011


1480 Comments


I kinda figured this would happen.

HenchmanOfSanta
July 27th 2011


1871 Comments


Don't think I'll be getting this even though I have much love for the Wu.

Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

Inveigh
July 27th 2011


25007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is a really thorough review, nice work.

keep meaning to download this and then not doing it...

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
July 27th 2011


7124 Comments


They need to stop making these and just do something people care about

bloc
July 27th 2011


34872 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album's a bit weak

Hawks
July 27th 2011


35824 Comments


I didn't even know they were releasing a group album this year. Guess it's really not worth it?

Inveigh
July 27th 2011


25007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

it's not really a group album, it's a compilation like Chamber Music was

although I hear we're getting an official Clan album by early next year.

PrettyToney
July 27th 2011


31 Comments


It's a RZA project, he said if people enjoyed chamber music he would do a sequel, and that's what legendary weapons is. Don't read into it too much, it's not actually a proper Wu Tang album, it just carries the name.I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the verses were just cut-offs, which have been hanging around unused for a few years.

I liked the article, but the intro was a bit negative considering 09-11 are the best years the Wu have had in a while! Even the announcment of all those Wu albums is pretty exciting considering the slump they were in before Only Built For Cuban Linx 2.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
July 27th 2011


6114 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ghost said new Wu in May.

To those who are on the fence about this, it's only 37 minutes, and there are a few good tracks, but don't really expect anything too special.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
July 27th 2011


6114 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@PTone: Yeah I can see that. It wasn't supposed to be a slight or anything, I was just trying to convey a little disappointment. But you're right, Rae set it off for them again, and I'm more than ecstatic about all the upcoming projects, and I have high expectations given the recent trend in Wu releases.

PrettyToney
July 27th 2011


31 Comments


Fingers crossed their final (probably) group album will be actually good.

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
July 27th 2011


7124 Comments


coming from the biggest RZA fanboy in the world, RZA needs to get his shit together if it (or LS2) will even be decent.

DinoX
July 27th 2011


3582 Comments


I still kind of want to hear this

ECRbubs
July 28th 2011


687 Comments


yeah....... wish wu would step it up lately

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


7124 Comments


Dude wu lately has been pretty damn awesome, this album was never supposed to be great to be honest,
these compilations they throw together have always just been the most half-assed things that no one
should take seriously. But wu has been at their best since their golden era lately.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2011


31215 Comments


Pretty much Killa Beez 2011

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2011


6114 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah if this really is their last studio album, you can bet there will be a plethora of Killa Bee verses on it, so that they can easily pass the torch after they quit but keep the Wu name alive somehow.

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


7124 Comments


I highly doubt they would fill their last real studio album with killa bee verses.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2011


6114 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I suppose plethora was a bit hyperbolic, but I doubt it will be devoid of features entirely, especially when you consider that niggas like Killa Sin are better than most of the Wu right now



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