Wu-Tang Is For The Children! Wu-Tang Forever Album Review

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CLASSIC RATING: 4 OUT OF 6

DISC 1: 5 & DISC 2: 4

Wu-Tang Clan's sophomore album Wu-Tang Forever was released on June 3, 1997, and it spread across the globe like a swarm of Killa Bees, topping the charts in both America and Europe. After releasing four critically acclaimed Wu-Tang solo albums, the world was primed and eager for the release of the follow-up to Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers. They kicked off the promotion for the album on February 11, 1997, with the lead single ''Triumph', which boasted a budget of $800,000. However, it's the fact that it's nearly six minutes long that is the outstanding fact according to RZA.

...I did "Triumph" ....radio and video stations was telling me it was too long... ..I had to edit it.. ..I told them... ...take it as is... ..or they wont get nothing, feel me? ...Next thing you know, we did the impossible: We got a 6 minute song on the radio... 6 minutes man, that's serious, its unheard of.. ...a 6 minute video...

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The anticipation when Forever dropped was immense and the package as a whole was exciting, complete with an “enhanced” CD that you popped into your computer and toured the digital Wu mansion, where each member had his own chamber. Wu-Tang was on top of the world as RZA explains in his second book The Tao of Wu

It went to number one in the first week. We were the biggest music group in the world. And that was it; the five years were over. The plan was completed.

[…]

With Wu-Tang Forever, we had all fulfilled our destiny. My brothers in the Clan had lived up to their five-year promise, and I had lived up to mine. The planets had aligned, the cipher was complete. There was no more prophesy involved; everything else was gravy. Our future was no longer ordained.

The album dropped in June. By August it was over. Wu-Tang left Shaolin and got lost in the countryside – separated, pulled apart.

[…]

We had the world in our hands and we dropped it.

The thing about the Wu and the reason that they are still so big today, despite much lower record sales, is because they were always about more than the music. They had an image and concepts around it, as well as their business ventures such as the Wu-Wear clothing line which became a success in 1995 after they received extended credit due the success they were having musically. Power (RZA's cousin and Wu-Tang's business manager) opened four Wu-Wear stores across America in New York City, Atlanta, Norfolk and Los Angeles. Wu-Wear even made it into the mainstream when stores such as Macy's, Rich's and d.e.m.o. among others started to carry the line. At the top of their success in 1998, Power says that they earned $10 million for that year alone. 

But not everyone was in agreement with the direction they were going, as the case usually was in such a large group as the Clan, especially Method Man was unhappy about the decision to bring Wu-Tang into the fashion world, ''When Wu-Wear started making shoes and sneakers and pants, it was shoddy material. I never rocked that shit." 

Wu-Tang was about many things, Kung-Fu, knowledge, diet, and fashion but without the music, they wouldn't be the legendary force they are today and Wu-Tang Forever contains some of their finest moments musically. From the violins on the opening track ''Reunited'' to the multi-layered instrumentation on ''Triumph'' and its multiple sections. When listening to the ''Triumph'' instrumental by itself one can see what Charlamagne Tha God meant when he Tweeted ''When Jesus come back if he don't step out that sky to the "Triumph" instrumental I won't believe he mean business.....''

But it was Ol' Dirty Bastard who put it best when he delivered his famous impromptu speech at the 1998 Grammy's after finding out that Puff Daddy's No Way Out had won Best Rap Album, "Wu-Tang is for the children! We teach the children! Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best!

How Classic Is The Wu-Tang Forever Double Album?

Alexander Ramalho