Weekly updates:

Music

Wu-Tang Clan: 25 Years On, and Forever

Celebrating the 25th birthday of their classic sophomore album and the newly-released anniversary collection, we list 5 of our favourite tracks from the Staten Island group’s ambitious double-disc opus.

Posted by

Weekly updates


There’s too much to say about the Wu-Tang Clan. They are one of the most legendary rap collectives of all time. Anyone who has engrossed in the dusty, off-kilter production of RZA, or the gritty bars of Ghostface Killah has felt their one-of-a-kind presence. Their discography is second-to-none, with their debut album Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) standing strong today as one of the best rap albums of all time, and a slew of classics delivered by almost every individual member. Another album that stands within that high esteem is their ambitious, double-disc blockbuster Wu-Tang Forever, that while it just turned 25 years old, sounds as fresh and inventive as ever. 

The album stands as an important part of hip-hop history. It was the first rap release to hit number 1 both in the U.S and UK, setting the tone for their years of worldwide dominance to come and the rapidly growing presence of the genre. It was a critical success as well, with writers like Matt Diehl of Entertainment Weekly saying “Wu-Tang are musical revolutionaries, unafraid to bring the noise along with their trunk of funk.” To commemorate the anniversary of the monumental album, Wu-Tang Clan have released a stacked anniversary collection. Everything from cassettes and uncovered interviews, to remixes of tracks like ‘Triumph’ are available, revealing more about the 1997 opus. In celebration of this, we revisited the album, and have listed 5 of our standout tracks that exemplify the illustrious lineage of the Staten Island pioneers.

Wu-Tang Forever’s legacy lives on 25 years later, check out the list below and head here to stream the classic album from one of hip hop’s most influential groups.

01. Visionz

‘Visionz’ is 3 minutes of lyrical mastery. There are 5 verses, handled by Method Man, Raekwon, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck, and Ghostface Killah. The beat is classic boom-bap, with gritty key hits, and drums that bounce off the stoops of Staten Island. Each member sources their bars from fantasy, articulating their visions with out-of-world detail and swagger-filled confidence. The claim to the best of the verses is one for debate, but Ghostface closes this track with vigour, firing off memorable lines like “My mood swings, suplexed off the rope, magazine.” It’s good ol’, dusty east coast excellence.

02. A Better Tomorrow

‘A Better Tomorrow’ beat catches the ear immediately. It contains a sample of ‘The Love Theme’ by pianist Peter Nero, which loops in a lo-fi, eerie manner throughout. It tackles the adversity faced within the city projects, painting a vivid picture of the dystopian struggle that persists. Inspectah Deck is especially vivid in the first verse, with lines like “Crooked cops comb my building complex that’s in the rumble, streets are like a jungle, can’t let my cypher crumble.” Masta Killa, U-God, RZA, and Method Man follow, harnessing the KO-power of the John Woo classic that the title of this track references. It’s a prime example of Wu-Tang’s food-for-thought concepts, catapulted by their undeniable style.

03. Impossible

RZA deemed Ghostface Killah’s verse on ‘Impossible’ the “Greatest Wu-Tang verse ever written” in his book The Wu-Tang Manual; he may be right. It’s an impactful one, as Killah weaves a tale of a man dying from gun wounds, covering the pain that lingered throughout the situation with the utmost passion. You can hear his voice break, as he goes through the trauma inflicted on the family and the ignorance of the police, enhancing the emotional depth of this already heavy song. Don’t gaze over the top-tier performances of RZA and U-God either, as they both contribute to the song’s concerns over the crime rate increasing in the city. Soundtracked by a sample flip of Beethoven’s ‘Sonata No.8 Pathetique’, ‘Impossible’ is a powerful PSA.

04. Maria

Maria is pure, unabashed flagrance. Commanded by two verses from the late, great Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the track shines in its tongue-in-cheek, boastful proclamations. Cappadonna and RZA match the unfiltered approach of ODB, bringing their witty takes to the chaotic grime of the instrumental. In an album rich with heavy, confronting topics, ‘Maria’ is a glowing moment of ridiculous, flex-heavy enjoyment.

05. Triumph

Everything amazing about ‘Triumph’ is perfectly described by the title itself. This massive posse cut features appearances from all 9 members and lives today as one of their most well-known tracks. The beat juxtaposes itself, with soulful vocal chops, fluttering keys, and elegant strings sitting atop crashing drums and a deep abyss of bass. Every member shows out, displaying a masterclass in rapping, but the real standout is Inspectah Deck, whose verse is regarded by many as one of the best verses of all time. If you’re reading this, you know the song, you’ve seen the classic video, and most likely have dropped a few bars yourself over the instrumental. ‘Triumph’ inspired us all to try and achieve.