When I have no clue what to listen to I pick a theme, and this weekend it's been Wu Tang albums. Both solo and as a crew, there are more than 100 to work through. I'm only up to 1998 and there are already some stand outs - the debut, 36 Chambers (obviously), GZA's Liquid Swords is one my all time favourites, and Gravediggaz - 6 feet deep.
Wu-Tang Forever is really poor. Where 36 Chambers sounds like every member of the crew is packed into a small room, trading bars over raw instrumentals, Wu-Tang Forever feels like every track was made in isolation, with each emcee coming by to record without the other present. The rawness of the instrumentals is gone, replaced with cheap drum machines. I can only assume this was to avoid sample clearance, but it's a downgrade.
The immense quality of the debut has bought a lot of good faith. There are true classics on the albums that followed but there is no way they'd have got the attention and reception if 'Bring da Ruckus' wasn't still ringing in critics ears.