Monday, April 14th, 2014

Wu-Tang Clan – Keep Watch

Never say we’re not looking out for you Cappadonna fans out there…


Katherine St Asaph: The Wu are printing exactly one copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin — one for everyone who counts this as essential.

Patrick St. Michel: Smooth and forgettable, Wu-Tang as imagined by a factory assembly line. Except for that really grating vocal hook.

Crystal Leww: “Keep Watch” is a thoroughly unremarkable track from a legendary hip-hop group. Everyone does a verse. There’s a hook. The whole track passes by without making a single noteworthy impression. Can we all stop the Real Hip-Hop wars now?

Megan Harrington: To be a bit topical for a moment, how incomprehensibly dead was the crowd during Outkast at Coachella? I want to believe the partial reunion of the Wu is a cultural moment worthy of microscopic observation, but it is possible no one cares? “Keep Watch” is passable, but I think the A$AP mob got a better verse out of Method Man. There is no Ghostface, no Raekwon, no RZA. What we’re supposed to applaud is the remote possibility that there could be; that after a decade of hammering home the idea that the group could no longer collaborate, there’s hope it’s not true. Is this collaboration? It comes with a flip tweet from Raekwon. Am I ungracious if I admit this is not the reunion I wanted? That I’ll probably just keep listening to 36 Chambers and pretend this never happened? 

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: “Keep Watch” is 100 per cent the wrong way to launch a new Wu-Tang Clan album: unnecessary R&B chorus, only four members present, production by RZA’s protege Mathematics rather than the Abbot himself. At the same time, these erratic qualities are oh so very Wu — despite their position as elder statesmen in hip-hop, the group keep bobbing and weaving, doing as they see fit and only when they see fit. Meth continues his post-“Trillmatic” spree, pouncing around the beat like he was still performing in front of flaming rubbish; Cappadonna raps so hard he almost loses his cool; and GZA waxes galactic, his star-searching definitions of brotherhood capping off the ceremonies (shades of 2001’s “Uzi (Pinky Ring),” the last classic group single from the group). The missing link is Inspectah Deck, who instead of bombing atomically, settles for bombing instead. “Keep Watch” won’t be entering the Wu canon, and the adventurous spirit of the 8 Diagrams era is missed, but it’ll do for now.

Josh Langhoff: Whoa, I am really bad at identifying Wu-Tang members! Method Man’s usually my favorite; I love hearing how long he can spin out a syncopated pattern. These other three guys must come from the side of the Clan I rarely listen to. (Are there internal Clan subdivisions? Maybe a Venn diagram with circles like “makes good solo albums” and “writes rhymes at the Christian Science Reading Room” — lookin’ at you, GZA!) I’m told that’s Cappadonna rapping third and killing it, displacing his rhythmic phrases by half a beat here and there, imbuing his verse with freedom and life by displacing our expectations of where syllables should fall. Now I’m thinking I should dig out my Cappadonna CD.

Brad Shoup: Some people get excited when they spot Cappa in the credits; I start tugging at the collar. But like Genius says, the connect is brotherly. Method Man jumps back from 1994, Mathematics meets him on the opposite trip, and they grab Nathaniel out of the void. The Wu’s never been about breakneck speed, but there’s something a little disconcerting about GZA’s pauses, even if his subject matter is winningly agnostic toward his mates’.

Alfred Soto: It’s never not exciting to hear Meth, Cappadonna, Inspectah Deck, and the rest rap abstrusely over minimalist loops. The sung chorus sucks though — let these MCs have their say.

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One Response to “Wu-Tang Clan – Keep Watch”

  1. It saddens me just how bad Deck is here