Coinciding with the release of their new Showtime documentary, Of Mics and Men, the Wu-Tang Clan have dropped an accompanying EP of new material that further solidifies their position as the apex group in hip hop.
Featuring four new tracks and three spoken interludes, Of Mics and Men the EP is a prime example of lyrical mastery, courtesy of hip hop legends Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, GZA, Kappa Donna, and Masta Killa. In an age where rappers rely on repetitive, simplistic phrases and autotune, Wu-Tang recall the complex art of telling intricate stories with technical precision. In many ways, this EP is the equivalent of a time machine, with each track serving as a signpost that looks back on a time when hip hop celebrated talent and innovation.
This emphasis on innovation and technical mastery is courtesy of Wu-Tang’s resident producer and MC, RZA. While RZA has taken a step back and allowed others to create the beats and produce tracks for the group and their affiliates, Wu-Tang sounds so much better when RZA is behind the mixing board. The majority of the beats and melodies are reminiscent of Wu-Tang Clan’s more recent releases, while the lyrical content and verses bring to mind the group’s seminal debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
The first three tracks are worthy of inclusion in any album, but the highlight is the title track, “Of Mics and Men.” RZA delivers the best lines in a hip hop song that I’ve heard in years, “I took a high hat, a snare, and a kick drum, a bass, a G note, and I turned it into a hit song.” This is just an example of the lyrical wizardry that each of these MCs brings to the table, especially when combined with the syncopated drum beat and piano melodies. The three spoken interludes are audio clips recorded for the documentary film, and provide interesting insight into the mindset of the group, and fit in naturally between the songs.
As an EP, this collection works well as a companion piece to the documentary. However, I hope that this project inspires all the members, including U-God and Young Dirty Bastard, to participate in the next album. Especially Young Dirty Bastard, filling in for his legendary Dad, Ol Dirty Bastard. Only time will tell if these 9 legends will reconvene and release a full length album, but until then, fans are lucky to have this short collection of songs to listen to after they finish watching the four part docu-series.
Verdict – B+