Despite a plethora of current albums and gigs that I should be reviewing, I felt that it would be hugely remiss of me to let the 20th anniversary of this album pass without at least a brief mention of the fact. Released on the 9th November 1993 and seen by some as one of the definitive hip-hop albums of all time, as well as on of the best albums of the ’90’s, this debut from the 9-strong New York group remains timeless.
A heady combination of loose, raw delivery, samples from martial arts movies and a humorous yet gritty take on the drugs, violence and urban life that surrounded the band growing up, Enter the Wu-Tang brought forth a new era in East Coast hip-hop. Pushing on from the more laid back stylings of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul and bringing a different spin on urban culture than Los Angeles’ gangsta rap scene, it paved the way for the likes of Notorious BIG, Nas and Jay-Z. It is seen as a landmark album in New York’s East Coast Renaissance of rap.
But Enter the Wu-Tang isn’t just about its significance or legacy. When I first heard this, I wasn’t any sort of hip-hop aficionado, and to be honest, I wouldn’t claim to be now. But straight from the beat kicking in on ‘Bring Da Ruckus’ I knew this was a special album. Highlights like ‘Method Man’, ‘Shame On A Nigga’ and, in particular, ‘Protect Ya Neck’ showcase the versatility of the crew with up to 8 rappers taking a verse.
Elsewhere, ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ and ‘Can It Be All So Simple’ give out a more introspective feel with the latter making outstanding use of samples from ‘The Way We Were’ by Gladys Knight and the Pips and ‘I Got The…’ by Labi Siffre. The excellent use of classic soul samples is a recurring theme on the album with Otis Redding, Sly and the Family Stone and the Jackson 5 all being featured.
This is an album that made a huge impression me and one that sounds as fresh now as it did 20 years ago. If you haven’t heard it then I recommend you track it down. You won’t be disappointed.
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