Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Wu-Tang Clan: A Better Tomorrow [Warner Bros., 2014]
Less a tour de force than a show of force, this is the music that can happen when a master producer gets to deploy nine skilled veteran voices--although the departed ODB is sampled, and effectively too, it's Cappadonna who fills out the cipher. If you're counting, rough-smooth-soulful Method Man and rat-a-tat-tat Masta Killa step up twice as often as Ghostface and Raekwon. But everybody's in the house, everybody raps better than he rhymes, nobody rhymes badly, and RZA is the man. Verbally, in the year a white Staten Island cop martyred a black Staten Island loosies vendor and a white Staten Island cop-turned-felon represented Staten Island in Congress, the album's vision of African-American life is longer on community than getting yours, but it's hardly unmaterialistic--mature, not respectable, as why the fuck should it be? Musically, it's almost utopian. A-