Putting the RZA out to pasture
Listening to this god-awful new Wu-Tang album yesterday, it occurred to me that the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan might have to ditch the RZA, if they're gonna have a successful career as a group from here on out. I'm convinced his mind is just not there anymore.
In that interview where Raekwon bitches about how the RZA was fucking up the 8 Diagrams with his production, he mentioned that him and some other people were thinking about putting together another Wu-Tang album next year, this time without the RZA's input. At the time, I didn't think this was a very good idea, since, after all, we heard what happened all of the other times Raekwon tried to put out an album without the RZA. But now I'm convinced that this could very well be the best idea Raekwon has had since the mid '90s. I really do hope he makes this happen.
If you think about it, it's been a long time since the RZA put out an album that was nails all the way through. I know he did a lot of work on Ghostface's Supreme Clientele, which is pretty much the best album evar. And I was a big fan of his solo album, the Digital Bullet, which came out around the same time. Neither The W nor Iron Flag was what you might call an unqualified masterpiece, but they both had their moments. If you combined all of the good ideas on each of them (which is what they should have done anyway), you could probably come up with a pretty good album.
But even that's been six or seven years ago. In the interim, what has the RZA done? I'm asking partly because it's not like I'm the guy's motherfucking biographer and partly because none of what I've heard from him in the past several years has been all that impressive. The Birth of a Prince was the definition of a shit sandwich, and this is coming from a guy who swears by both of those Bobby Digital albums to this day. I suppose he's scored a few impressive paydays scoring kung fu films and what have you, but I'm not aware that any of his recent scores are better than or altogether different from his fucking brilliant score for the movie Ghost Dog. Which again dates back about seven years now.
Knowing what I know about the new Wu-Tang album, his post-2000 production output, and the fact that he's under the impression that he invented Serato, I'm left with no other choice but to assume that the RZA smoked himself silly some time around the turn of the millennium and hasn't been right ever since. The hip-hop equivalent of that guy Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here was about, except without the sense to go buy a house somewhere and spend the rest of his life tending to his garden. Hopefully he doesn't end up in some PCP-induced incident in a shopping mall somewhere, but I wouldn't be surprised if the RZA doesn't have another good idea in his life.
Which brings me to my point. If Pink Floyd didn't put out Dark Side of the Moon until after Syd Barrett went batshit, what's there to suggest that the Wu-Tang Clan can't put out a good album in 2008? It's been well documented that Raekwon, Ghostface, Method Man, and U-God all have beef with the RZA over money anyway, so it shouldn't be too difficult to convince them to split with him. The GZA might not be as willing to go along with it, since him and RZA are cousins and all, but you know what? He sucks now anyway. Try listening to some of his verses on 8 Diagrams without cringing a little bit. (Ol' Dirty Bastard obviously won't be an issue one way or the other.)
Since Ghostface is obviously the only one in the group who can consistently tell the difference between a good idea and a bad one, I say he should be the leader of any post-RZA Wu-Tang Clan. Imagine if the production on 8 Diagrams was on a par with, say, the beats The Pretty Toney Album, hardly any of which was produced by the RZA. The Wu-Tang Clan would be so back right now. It also seems like he's been much more proactive about the process of promoting his work - touring, putting out books and dolls and what have you - than anyone else in the group. That's the kind of focus the Wu-Tang Clan is gonna need, if it wants to be anywhere near the level it was at in the mid '90s.