Countdown to 8 Diagrams, Part 1: U-God.

A few months ago, I wrote the following 8 posts (which will be appearing 1 per day over the next 8 weekdays) with the intention of counting down to the release of 8 Diagrams on November 6th December 4th December 11th. At that time, I would’ve never imagined the string of events that followed: the release date mix-up with Ghostface’s The Big Doe Rehab, Wu members unhappy with RZA’s direction and sound, money missing, and — something I thought I’d never hear — the possibility of a future Wu-Tang Clan release without the RZA. As a Wu fan stan (fuck it, I’m not ashamed to admit it), I had always heard rumors of inner-Clan turmoil and heated studio sessions, but never took it as anything but evidence of friendly competitiveness, intended to make everyone better. Now, instead of the release of 8 Diagrams being a joyous occasion, it seems as if all parties involved would rather pretend that the album never existed.

The album leaked a few days ago, but — like a couple of y’all out there, I’m sure — I’m waiting until the actual release date to cop. That hasn’t stopped me from reading what others have been saying about the album, and it seems like for every person whose commended the RZA’s production efforts on the album, there’s another person who has deemed 8 Diagrams as something along the lines of a “shit sandwich”. For those of y’all in the former category, let this series of posts be a toast to the Wu’s longevity, and perhaps the greatest catalog of records in hip hop history. For those of y’all in the latter category, let this series of posts be a eulogy of sorts, reminding of the greatness that the Wu embodies, which (hopefully) isn’t soiled by the release of an ill-conceived, off-6-year-hiatus album. And for those of y’all who have avoided the 8 Diagrams leak like the plague, let this series of posts boost your anticipation for December 11th, when you can then decide for yourself.

I’ll be posting 4 tracks each day, broken down as follows:

  • a solo track from a Wu member;
  • a track from a Wu-Tang Clan album, in which that Wu member’s verse stood out;
  • a track from a different Wu member’s solo album, where the highlighted Wu-member made a notable guest spot; and
  • a track from a non-Wu artist featuring that Wu member.

And, to show that I’m not making these posts in any particular order (for example, in order of my personal favorite Wu members), I’ll be starting things off with U-God.

I kid, I kid. I mean, U-God isn’t my favorite member of the Wu, but I wouldn’t say he’s the worst of ‘em. More like the “least best.” Read on…

Download: U-God – “Dat’s Gangsta” (off Golden Arms Redemption, 1999)

I feel like one of the reasons U-God often gets so little consideration is because he always tried to be somewhat commercially accessible (as opposed to, say, Inspectah Deck or Masta Killa, who didn’t really try to break from their respective styles). But, since U-God lacked the energy of a Method Man, the natural charisma of a Ghostface, or the off-the-wall personality of an Ol’ Dirty, he’d find other ways to stand out on a track, though he wouldn’t always stand out in a good way (i.e. his verse on “The Jump Off”). I mean, could you imagine any other member of the Wu making a song called “Dat’s Gangsta”? But, putting all of that aside, this track is actually really dope — vintage Wu-Tang production (of the more funky, up-beat variety), and U-God more than holds his own.

Download: Wu-Tang Clan – “It’s Yourz” (off Wu-Tang Forever, 1997)

U-God would occasionally show off that Casanova, “ladies’ man” type of swagger on tracks. Although at times that style wouldn’t mesh that well with the rest of the Clan, on “It’s Yourz”, U-God’s execution was flawless (as opposed to his contribution to the extensive video catalog of BET Uncut, which was anything but flawless). Word to Raphael Saadiq.

Download: Ghostface – “9 Milli Bros.” featuring Wu-Tang Clan (off Fishscale, 2006)

Though he may not have had the best verse on here (I’d say Ghost made this track all his own), U-God was given the role of closer on this posse cut, which doesn’t happen very often. Plus, you have to love the Damon Dash reference — considering that Dame’s been pretty much invisible since the Roc-A-Fella split, someone’s got to keep the self-proclaimed cakeaholic’s memory alive.

Download: Methods of Mayhem – “Mr. Onsomeothershit” featuring U-God (off Methods Of Mayhem, 1999)

What? You don’t remember Tommy Lee’s rap/rock hybrid side-project? Yea… can’t say I blame you for that. For some reason, U-God was given about 40 seconds to bless their album. I wouldn’t exactly say that this is on some other shit necessarily — although, when you comparing it to a Tommy Lee rap/rock album, something good could justifiably be considered as being “onsomeothershit”.

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  1. Max

    Anyone that reads my blog will find it obvious that U-God is my favorite member of the Wu. And by ‘favorite’, I mean ‘most likely I would pass over if offered the opportunity to interview U-God versus Hammer’. But this is a great post, and I look forward to the rest. And I STILL stand by my assertion that the only good U-God verse is on Cappa’s “Supa Ninjaz”, although the more I think about it, he wasn’t bad on “It’s Yourz” either.

    -Max


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