Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) LP

Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) LP

RCA / Loud / Wu-Tang (2021, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

The first time I heard Wu-Tang clan was when I was watching Yo! MTV Raps in 1993.  The video for the song "Method Man" had just started playing.  I think it was the first time the group had ever been on Yo!, but if not, it was definitely the first time I saw them.  I loved that song.  Often in those days I'd buy a cassingle before committing to the full CD, but not this time.  I went right out and bought 36 Chambers.

I was phenomenally disappointed.  Probably listened to the whole CD a handful of times max, put "Method Man" on a few mix tapes and eventually just sold the CD.  I didn't get it.  Then Wu-Tang started getting more popular, became a juggernaut and I never went back and revisited.  I had pretty much given up on hip hop by that point anyway.

Fast forward to now.  I've been digging real deep in 90s hip hop.  Trying to find new relics that I've never heard while also trying to make sure I have vinyl versions of all the CDs I had as a kid.  One of the ways I look for new old hip hop is through a podcast called Take It Personal.  They're currently doing a series of specials dedicated to the year 1993.  On one of these, they played several songs from 36 Chambers and it felt like I was hearing them for the first time.

I decided to give it a whirl and pick up the LP.  I'm glad I did.  I'm not sure exactly why this didn't connect with me when it first came out.  Sure, there are still a few songs that I think are just too slow and you'll never convince me that "C.R.E.A.M." isn't an overblown mess.  But, the vast majority of the record is pretty fun.  I tend to gravitate towards the songs with more robust beats and to this day, "Method Man" is still the highlight track for me.  But, right on its tail is "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" which is a song I don't remember in any capacity.  I can't believe I didn't like it when I was sixteen.

I may be nearly thirty years late to the party, but I am glad I finally realized that 36 Chambers is a pretty good record.  I wouldn't even rank it in the top ten records of 1993, let alone declare it as one of the greatest of all time, but it's a good, fun record that will be a pleasure to bring out for a change of pace every so often.

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