Vulture just got back from a listening session for 8 Diagrams, the first new Wu-Tang Clan studio album since 2001’s Iron Flag, which is optimistically scheduled for a November 13 release. It was 22 minutes of raw, unmixed goodness, spread over ten tracks, which were handpicked from the forthcoming LP by WTC leader RZA. No one particular song geeked us out as much as the head-chopping posse cut “9 Milli Bros,” from Ghostface’s 2006 album Fishscale, the last time we heard all these dudes together, but, then again, the dark, sad, and borderline-paranoiac selections that we did hear all bode well for a concrete-hard, pissed-off Wu-Tang release.
A few hits and misses:
1. The much-anticipated (?) “As My Guitar Gently Weeps” sample shows up on a song titled — at least for now — “My People Gently Weep.” Apparently the final track list isn’t set yet; if that’s true, let’s hope the Wu wise up and drop this clunker.
2. The cinematic “Thug World” was a highlight; ominous synths rise and drop into sharp strings, and RZA manages to be both soul-baring and profane in the span of a single lyric: “Love my bitches like Chachi loves Joanie / Fuck 200 pussies and still feel lonely.”
3. “Life Changes,” the ODB tribute, is likely to get a lot of attention. The Clan take turns sharing memories of their flamboyant fallen comrade. Shockingly non-sappy.
4. “Wolves,” a head-swerving track that recalls Iron Flag’s “Uzi (Pinky Ring),” is the obvious single. Not even Wu-Tang’s ugly stepchild U-God can screw this one up. —Amos Barshad