On their last album, 2014’s A Better Tomorrow, The Wu-Tang Clan might have taken Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s famous “Wu-Tang is for the children” quip too literally, going full-on Disney musical for at least one song, “Miracle.” Elsewhere, the album was cluttered by too many bells and whistles - a Skrillex synth here, a hair metal electric guitar there, a marching band at the end of “We Will Fight.” Where was the grimy, rugged, and raw Wu that we know and love? On their recently-announced follow-up, Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues, it seems like the Clan is back, ready to deliver the stripped down, gritty version of themselves we’ve come to expect.
Two songs into the pre-release timeline, we have longtime Wu-Tang DJ Mathematics and Method Man’s right-hand man Redman to thank for collapsing A Better Tomorrow’s big-tent ambitions and keeping things lower to the ground. With Mathematics on the boards and Reggie Noble on the mic and Meth, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, and Masta Killa also contributing verses, “People Say” sounds straight outta Shaolin, truly a classic Wu posse cut.
To transition from whole crew to just a few, the album’s second single, “Lesson Learn’d” is just Mathematics, Redman, and Inspectah doing their respective things. Simple hook, simple beat, no-nonsense verses - this is the bread and butter that the entire Clan could subsist on for the rest of their lives. All of the frills we need come from the rappers’ color commentary; one-liners like Redman’s “These white folks love me like a Starbucks” and especially Inspectah Dek’s all-too-relevant “My price hikin’ like the pills Martin Shkreli sell” are the Wu’s version of guitar solos.
Mathematics is set to executive produce Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues, so we have to wonder what role, if any, RZA will have on the project. We’re also still waiting to hear verses from Ghostface, GZA, U-God, and Cappadonna. Save your worries, though, because all Wu-queries will be answered on October 13, when The Saga Continues finally hits shelves. Stay tuned for preorder info.