Klinger: Is there any prospect more daunting to the hip-hop novice (which, if we’re being completely honest, I must sheepishly confess to being) than the idea of entering the world of the Wu-Tang Clan? I’ve been eying this album for weeks now, knowing that the day would come when the Great List would give me my marching orders and send me into the unchartered territories of Shaolin and the 36 Chambers and its attendant lifestyle and lingo. Plus there are nine guys on this record—that’s a lot to keep track of—and I keep remembering back to the ‘90s when every few weeks one of those nine guys seemed to be putting out a record. It all just seemed like a lot to take in. So I kept putting it off, like a kid hoping for a blizzard the night before a test. But here we are.
And it is a lot to take in, but I’ll be darned if it isn’t completely worth it. The more I listen to it, the more I realize what is going on. And unlike the other East Coast hip-hop we’ve covered (which is really just Public Enemy and De La Soul), Enter the Wu-Tang seems to be built upon less immediately recognizable samples. So it’s the lyrics that keep me coming back, which seems like an obvious thing to say, but this is one of the few records we’ve covered (hip-hop or otherwise) where the lyrics are almost completely driving the record. Not since Leonard Cohen, Mendelsohn. Did I just compare Wu-Tang Clan to Leonard Cohen? Somebody had to.