Wu-Tang 25: Quarter Century of Shaolin is a year-long series celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
Released February 19, 1991
- Come Do Me
- Phony As Ya Wanna Be
- True Fresh M.C.
- The Genius Is Slammin’
- Words from a Genius
- Who’s Your Rhymin’ Hero
- Feel the Pain
- Those Were the Days
- Life of a Drug Dealer
- Stop the Nonsense
- Living Foul
- Stay Out of Bars
- What Are Silly Girls Made Of
Pass the Bone featuring Prince Rakeem (Replaced Come Do Me on the 1994 re-release)
Incredible what a few years can do. This was the first release of any Wu-Tang member before 36 Chambers. Going back to this album for Wu-Tang 25 was eye-opening. I re-visited Words from The Genius to see how GZA changed as a rapper over those two short years, and especially how he’s changed when he put out Liquid Swords.
The one thing that was consistent: storytelling. Life of a Drug Dealer, Stay Out of Bars, and What Are Silly Girls Made Of are examples of how GZA’s storytelling abilities were already sharpened. Detailed and descriptive, it was clear, that aspect of rhyming was most developed back in 1991, and as far as that aspect goes, it holds up here. Unfortunately, that’s the only real thing that’s worth going back to.
The production sounds generic early-90’s rap. Shout-out to Easy Mo Bee who has some legendary production credits to his name, but nothing of note here. It sounds monotonous, plus when you consider the music and overall confidence in his ability that he would exhibit in future projects, hearing songs like Come Do Me makes it apparent that GZA was trying too hard to make it work. It comes off as unnatural and awkward.
It’s not a hard listen, but I would say the album is more of a curious listen, rather than a necessity when it comes to the Wu. Treat this like Star Trek: Enterprise. Some of the other shows and movies are important to watch when it comes to Star Trek, but Enterprise is a fun lark through the franchise’s history rather than a staple. Revisiting Words from The Genius was fun to look at academically, but it’s not needed in the Wu-Tang canon.
Next Chamber: Ooh, I Love You, Rakeem