Though not a classic A Better Tomorrow is viable writes Sean Watson

As professor Farnsworth would say, “Great news everyone!” – Wu-Tang’s new album A Better Tomorrow isn’t horrible. It’s an RZA-laced, heavily versed, Kung Fu dialogue dropping, unconventional long player like only the Wu can do. Frankly, it’s better than 8 Diagrams and Iron Flag and there are some great moments had by all members throughout the album.

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“Mistaken Identity” is classic killer bees. The almost stereotypical RZA loop twists and turns as the Clan drops jewels. Cappadonna flips on an organ-sprinkled break that’ll instantly bring you back 10 years. That being said there is an inherent disconnect on the album. RZA’s soundscapes evolve and morph mid-song, but rely on mostly live drums that lack the snap of today’s synthetic sound. The more contemporary cuts like “Keep Watch” and to a lesser extent “Ron O’Neal” work well and evolve the Wu sound, but there are moments when the members sound downright antiquated.

They struggle through “40th Street Black/We Will Fight”. There are points where RZA sounds out of breath and the tempo causes problems for a few flows. “Miracle” features some of the best verses on the album, but the Sherman Brothers’ inspired hook is awkward. The soaring strings on “Wu-Tang Reunion” are corny and “Preacher’s Daughter” has one of the worst renditions of Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” ever recorded.

Still it’s great to not hear a pop culture reference every few bars and even better to hear that the Wu-Tang can still put out viable work over 20 years later. However, the cohesion that made the Wu-Tang a unit has long changed and without a true bonding of the brothers, that spark cannot be rekindled. Someone get Kanye on the line for A Better Tomorrow 2.

Words By. Sean Watson + Photo Courtesy Of. Jonathan Weiner