The W (Loud)
Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., Jan. 19, 2001
The W (Loud)Turn your back on the Wu-Tang Clan and they'll snap your neck like a twig. This should've been obvious, but the first half of the Clan's third CD The W is just spotty enough to lull listeners into believing the Staten Island Shao-Lin masters' kung-fu has taken one too many kicks to the head. Not that it's bad, it just seems to lack that ravenous, all-consuming, fuck-all-y'all ethos that made their 1993 arrival so epochal. Like maybe RZA left his A-game on the Ghost Dog soundtrack. "Chamber Music" and "Careful (Click Click)" are competent, but hardly cataclysmic, while "Redbull," the umpteenth Meth-Redman teaming, could use a bit more energy. Where's Ol' Dirty Bastard when you need him most? (Doing the jailhouse rock with his new band At the Drive-Thru.) Then the hammer drops: Sucker-punch "Protect Ya Neck (the Jump Off)" throws things into high gear with the return of that Mean Joe Greene beat and Wu-Tang slang flying like expertly balanced throwing knives. Same with "Do You Really (Thang Thang)" and "Gravel Pit." Lightsaber FX and Raekwon's rapid-fire verbals make "Let My Niggaz Live" properly menacing. The Clan misses a golden opportunity for a "Chef vs. Chef" kitchen match, but Isaac Hayes transforming "Walk on By" into "I Can't Go to Sleep" still makes for a haunting ghetto lament. This time they're on some clandestine shit, creeping up on you padfoot-style, but when it's over, as you're lying dazed and bloody on the carpet, you look over and see a big red W on the wall. Wu-Tang was here, and they'll be back.