So why is Wu-Tang Clan’s A Better Tomorrow on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
It’s testimony to my getting older that A Better Tomorrow feels like Wu-Tang Clan’s “recent” album, and then I look and note that it came out nine long years ago as of this writing. The album too has that feel of an older, somewhat wiser, somewhat still knucklehead hip hop collective of worldclass hip hop artists and Shaolin inhabitants still doing their thing – and feeling pretty good about it at that.
It’s RZA’s god level production that makes the whole unwieldy contraption shine. Whenever I think about the music on this album (and on most RZA-related projects, really), I think about how cinematic it feels. And the canvas is fully in effect for the entire crew* to show off their still forceful skills on the five minute-plus opening track, “Ruckus in B Minor.”
* And by entire crew, I mean most of the Wu-Tang Clan participated in this one, with obvious exceptions including Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a.k.a. Russell Tyrone Jones, Big Baby Jesus, Dirt McGirt, et al, who passed away in 2004.
And it’s clear from the jump that these are Gen X rappers in their 40s not afraid to give the younger generations a lesson or two.
Youngin’, I can see your draws, pull your pants up
Can’t even call yourself a man until you man up
“Ruckus” is one of two favorite songs of mine on A Better Tomorrow. Whereas the production feels huge in scope, exciting, and even pretty, my other favorite song, “Hold the Heater,” starts off sounding grimy and gritty by comparison, before segueing into an incredible funk riff with great flow provided by the likes of RZA, Cappadonna (who I revere more and more over the years), U-God, and the great GZA.
“Preacher’s Daughter” is perhaps the most… fun sounding Wu-Tang Clan song I’ve ever heard, as odd as that is to write. It does this by way of sampling and playing off of Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.”
“Ron O’Neal” meanwhile lifts the theme from the movie Super Fly, which was written by the legendary Curtis Mayfield. O’Neal starred in Super Fly, and the song reflects the movie’s influence on Wu-Tang and hip hop culture. It also has a nice slow, sly, soul/funk backdrop for the Wu to do their rap thing over.
Overall, A Better Tomorrow might be Wu-Tang’s most eclectic album in terms of sound and scope.
Some stats & info about Wu-Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rap, Hip Hop, East Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
- When was A Better Tomorrow released? 2014
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #544 out of 1,000
Wu-Tang Clan’s A Better Tomorrow on Spotify
A lyrical snippet from Wu-Tang Clan’s A Better Tomorrow that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
The most duplicated, anticipated, validated urban legends in the books with the ones who made it.
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.