Release Date: October 13, 2017
- Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues Intro featuring RZA
- Lesson Learn’d featuring Inspectah Deck & Redman
- Fast And Furious featuring Hue Hef & Raekwon
- Famous Fighters (Skit)
- If Time is Money (Fly Navigation) featuring Method Man
- Frozen featuring Chris Rivers, Killah Priest, Ghostface Killah & Method Man
- Berto And The Fiend featuring Ghostface Killah
- Pearl Harbor featuring Ghostface Killah, Method Man, RZA & Sean Price
- People Say featuring Redman & Wu-Tang Clan
- Family (Skit) featuring Shahrazad Ali
- Why Why Why featuring RZA & Swnkah
- G’d Up featuring Method Man, Mzee Jones & R-Mean
- If What You Say Is True featuring Streetlife, Cappadonna, GZA, Masta Killah, & Ol’ Dirty Bastard
- Saga (Skit)
- Hood Go Bang! featuring Method Man & Redman
- My Only One featuring Cappadonna, Ghostface Killah, RZA and Steven Latorre
- The Saga Continues Outro featuring RZA
The Wu-Tang name has been in the zeitgeist for the past few years, for good and bad. The last album, A Better Tomorrow, revealed the discord within the group to the point where U-God had a lawsuit against RZA. Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, the one-of-one album caused controversy when it was bought by the pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli, who then sold the album on eBay. Mix that with all the music and other projects the members have done, there has been a lot of buzz around the group. So the saga continues.
Notice that the artist name is “Wu-Tang” without the clan. U-God is nowhere on this album. The lawsuit is the primary reason, and in the words of the sole producer of the album DJ Mathematics, “It can’t be a complete Wu-Tang Clan album without [U-God].” His presence is sorely missed, as with the lack of multiple verses from Masta Killah and GZA. Admirable to drop the “clan” from the name if the whole group can’t be together. Yet, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this album could’ve gone to another level if the group was together.
A big plus was to have Mathematics produce the entire album. For the last 10 years, the group hasn’t been on the same vibe when it came to the direction of the music. RZA’s creative direction has drifted away from the rest of the group, so the last few albums haven’t sounded as harmonious as previous works. To bring in the long-time DJ of the group to produce the entire album does a few things. It allows RZA to step back to Executive Producer role so he isn’t as hands-on as he was previously, plus Mathematics can better focus on what the group wants to hear. So the production is much closer to what fans and the member themselves want to hear: Dark and moody beats with a touch of some keys, and samples those classic kung-fu movies. When it works, it works beautifully. It’s like the clan never broke up.
There are multiple songs that gave me that Wu-Tang feel. People Say, Pearl Harbor, My Only One and If What You Say Is True are the Wu sounding the most cohesive and together. While there are other songs that are solid, the album as a whole could’ve been tighter. The four skits don’t need to be there, plus all but the features from Redman, Sean Price and Chris Rivers aren’t necessary. Wu-Tang already has enough voices to fill a whole album, but they added too many more. But even with the subtraction of most of the guest features, a larger problem exists.
The Saga Continues should’ve gone through a few more revisions. The production is there, but the verses from the members do sound phoned-in. What makes the previous songs stand out is that the members sound energized. They sound like they want to be there. Unfortunately, the music ebbs more than it flows. That energy isn’t maintained throughout the album, which left me wanting more from this album. To be clear, this is the best Wu-Tang album since Iron Flag. The Saga Continues is far from a disappointment, but it’s not what it could’ve been. Props to Mathematics for making RZA-style music better than RZA these days, but the Clan wasn’t in full form here. It’s hard to not think about how if U-God was able to resolve his issues with the group, and the Clan as a whole can come together under Mathematics’s production, then we might have the latter-day album that Wu-Tang deserves to have.
This wasn’t the Wu project I was hoping for. But there are flashes here of that album. The saga continues, and I’m hopeful that this still put them on the path for bigger and better things. Both for us fans and them as people.
The Saga Continues