Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Wu-Tang Clan: 8 Diagrams [SRC/Universal Motown, 2007]
Bogarted by RZA just like Raekwon says, and good. With his thumping beats and cinematic sweep, only RZA can capture the great Wu dichotomy, in which still-the-same-n**** rough stuff--"knuckles is brass, start snuffing you fast," "two grand'll handle your mouth"--coexists naturally with mystagogic symbology, apple martinis and casual references to Croatia and Liberia. It's RZA whose bird tweets and femme chorus captivate the "ears of corn and heads of lettuce" his one-man hymn to Allah calls out, RZA whose "hip-hop renaissance" leaps lightly from Benetton to some pistol grip I don't understand. The second greatest track belongs to George Clinton, the greatest to George Harrison, brought back from the dead by Ghostface Killah's tear-tattooed tale of not murdering somebody's nephew in Pathmark, just beating him comatose. But the album belongs to the hip-hop hippie. And an album it definitely is. A-