Various Artists - The Wu Chronicles  
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written by Hugo Lunny    
Since 1993's 'Enter The Wu,' it's been hard to buy a hip hop album without some kind of Wu-Tang involvement. With a group as diverse as the Wu, the various members have been on tracks with everyone from AZ to Xzibit. So what would be more obvious than a compilation of Wu guest appearances, with a few album cuts and a couple of new joints on there. This, essentially, is what is the Wu Chronicles.

The format works well. Ol' Dirty is represented well on the Alkaholik's 'Hip Hop Drunkies,' Raekwon fits in well with the Cocoa Brovaz on 'Black Trump,' and Method Man trades tales with the late Biggie Smalls on 'The What.' And if you want some real Wu-Tang flavour, check out '4th Chamber' from GZA's album or 'Wu-Gambinos' from 'Only Built...' to see the Wu doing what the Wu do best: Dope posse cuts. Even the Wu-fam do a Wu-esque track when Killarmy and Sunz of Man hook up for the song 'Wake Up.' Although there are no tracks on the level of 'Triumph' or 'Protect Ya Neck' in terms of the amount of emcees, it does have some of the best tracks from the Wu solo albums.

Of most interest to real Wu fans though will be two previously unreleased songs. RZA, Cappadonna and Dirty are all on the demo '96 Recreation,' which although it features a great performance from RZA falls down due to bare production. Fairly new affiliates the Wu-Syndicates contribute 'Latunza Hit,' which isn't particularly good but isn't really bad either. However, it pales in comparison to some of the compilation's finer tracks.

The album does have it's low points though. AZ sounds unimpressive as ever on 'Whatever Happened (The Birth)', which doesn't benefit much from an average RZA contribution. And Ras Kass' 'The End' has quite possibly the worst verse I've ever heard from RZA. Plus, some of the better Wu tracks from the past are conspicuous by their absence (No Meth/Redman collaboration? None of Inspektah Deck's last few guest appearances ?).

To be honest, the compilation is worth it for it's better moments, such as the 'Cold World' remix and 'Semi Automatic: Full Rap Metal Jacket,' which some casual wu fans may not have. And if you're a big enough Wu fan to have all of the previously released material on this CD, you'll probably buy it for the unreleased tracks whatever I say.

If you take a look at the track listing and see what you've got and what you haven't, you can probably work it out for yourself if it's worth a purchase. But for most people, you should at least check this one out.









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