New Wu-Tang album a solid entry to group’s library

Delving into the genre of rap, artists tend to wear their influences loosely on their sleeves, aptly recognizing and respecting those who helped push the envelope on rhyming or production allowing them to create in their own way.

The Wu-Tang Clan is one group frequently mentioned among the list of greats who helped revolutionize the direction of rap in the ‘90s and paved the way for future East Coast rappers to find a niche sound. If you have ever listened to Nas, The Notorious B.I.G. or Jay-Z, there is a good chance that you have heard some references or stylistic homage to Wu-Tang’s music production or style.

With the new album release “The Saga Continues,” listeners can hear some of their favorite Wu-Tang members rap over familiar-sounding beats produced by Mathematics — who has been working hand-in-hand with the posse since their inception and is responsible for designing the iconic Wu-Tang symbol.

If you are interested in hearing how New York soul can be embodied into beats and lyrics, this album works well to capture the 90’s zeitgeist of street rap while showcasing Mathematics’ skilled production value woven into every song. Hearing genre favorite MCs such as Ghostface Killah, Method Man or Raekwon rap over these beats opens a window into flows and intricate rhyme schemes.

“The Saga Continues” merits a listen and can help to illuminate where many East Coast sounds were initiated and how far the group has come since they were established.

The de facto leader of the group, RZA, stated that this album works as a compilation album to showcase the evolving craft of Mathematics while giving the audience and fans something to enjoy while the group works on more music to fit in canonical discography.

It is possible this new album is still working to get out of the shadow of their 1993 debut album “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),”  which has been noted by many to be one of the best rap albums ever composed. “The Saga Continues” still provides a helpful insight into the aggressive, hard-hitting style that East Coast rap has reinforced. This is compared to the calmer, funkier music that many know West Coast rap to find roots in. With Mathematics and RZA still putting in old sound bytes of low-budget Kung-Fu flicks — which helped inspire the group’s name and music as they tried to create a blend of martial arts and hip-hop through rhyming — a sense of nostalgia is instilled in “The Saga Continues,” along with references to their original sounds.

One of the more popular rappers to emerge from The Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah, performed in Grand Rapids at the Pyramid Scheme on Friday, Oct. 20th. The show was performed with local hip-hop group Controvics and Michigan rapper B-Sturg.