Friday, March 25, 2011

Enter U-God: The Wu-Tang Clan's Secret Weapon

I'm a longtime fan of IRON FLAG, a Wu-Tang album from 2001, originally released just after the events of 9/11 (and a blistering threat to the bastards who perpetrated it!). That IRON FLAG album is superb (if you cut off the last track, which is a hokey retread of a Christmas song).
In a group where all nine members are super-talented geniuses, my go-to favorite has always been Method Man....He cracks me up...
But as IRON FLAG proves, U-God is the Wu's secret weapon. He's got soul power galore. He opens the song "Uzi (Pinky Ring)" in high-octane fashion and owns it: he does not let up with the great lyrics and machine-gun delivery. Listen to these lyrics:

Yo.. yeah
Don't erase none of that good shit in the beginnin
Yo.. spill drinks on ya, get stank on ya
Yo.. yo.. pinky ring shit, yo
That pinky ring shit yo

It's that pinky ring shit, the legend of masked kid
Shoot out the speakers when my guns get jurassic
Superbad, who am I? Dolemite classic
The vandal's back, hands on Angela Bassett
I handle my plastic, gunplay I mastered
No coke, dope mixed down with acid on record
Broken down and crafted in seconds
Lady's choice, the golden voice still peppered
Better, respect it, bitch believe
I pull rabbits out the hat, tricks up my sleeves
I air out the showroom, the shit can breathe
Fix your weave, behold my expertise

Ditto his verse in the song right before it, "Soul Power," a nostalgic-yet-cool song highlighted by, among other moments, a conversation between Mef and special guest star Flavor Flav (the album's ersatz ODB) discussing their old neighborhoods.

U-God goes at rapid-fire speed:

Yo, yo...
Line Cadillacs to blocks, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx
Jukebox records, flatfooted cops
Get automatic systematic jumpin in your socks
Mama's apple pie in the park hopscotch
Reunited on the radio, Wu-Tang superb
In the sprinklers girls double-dutchin on the curb
Sinatra, the pop the Jackson 5 recordings
Uptown Saturday, "Cotton Came to Harlem"
Ringmaster circus was, Bailey and Barnum
Crack a Coca-Cola, summer heat was my boredom
Dr. J before Jordan, Al Green on the organ
When Rerun did the dance, the whole world saw him
The blackout fears, Foxxy Brown, Pam Grier
Ford motor gear, your life and times queer
"Smokey the Bear", Burt Reynolds gray hair
Throw 'em some gems, throw up your fists and say yeah, it's Soul Power!

Man, IRON FLAG is out of control. I can't say enough superlatives about songs such as the intro track, "The Rules," "Radioactive."
I'm currently listening to the Wu-Tang's most recent LP, 8 DIAGRAMS, from 2007, and while it may not be as top-tier to me as IRON FLAG, it's up there, man. 8 DIAGRAMS has got moxie galore, with beautifully asymmetrical tunes like "Unpredictable" and "Running With Elephants," and my favorite track, "Wolves," which hits fast and hard, is a showcase for....guess who? U-God!

Once again on 8 DIAGRAMS, Method Man and U-God run things. The RZA has infused this album with jazzy flourishes and, despite its cheesiness, how can you not embrace a song built around George Harrison's contagious psychedelic lullaby "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"?
The Wu are masters of performance and the art of storytelling. Giants who walk among us....

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