WU-TANG CLAN – “KEEP WATCH” Single Review

By SUNEZ

Fuck your memories.  Hip Hop albums aren’t supposed to recreate memories you had with an artists’ previous work.  Who can create when they must care for whatever sublime savagery or enlightened epiphany you experienced on their bars and beats?!  But we hear that they are caring from a recently awkwardly placed, passively penning journalist [Grantland feature].  We hear RZA wants to unite them and show the world a timeless bowing. That Raekwon says it’s too humble. We’re left to assume Ghostface is kind of in Rae’s kitchen of thought.  We gotta know U-God was supposed to be a legend but is a respectful MC in a legendary cipher.  Jump to Twitter and Inspectah Deck’s rightfully proclaiming he’ll never sell you out. Shift back to the non-Hip Hop embedded correspondent, Masta Killa still on the square of the present ready to build.  Surely, Method Man isn’t sitting up at home but in the lab furiously barring.  And GZA don’t care but drops the strongest verse they’ve had as a Clan in years on their latest single, “Keep Watch” off the upcoming A Better Tomorrow LP.

The Wu-Tang Clan are neither revolutionaries nor evolutionaries in Hip Hop music alone.  They are both.  To its simplest elements, they revolutionized verses in content and theme through their diverse personas and RZA turned production into cinema.  They evolutionize what was already there mastering Rakim’s poetic layering and pounds pads in the spirit that Marley innovated.  But Ason Unique has returned to the essence and the chaos he held somehow infects the rest.  It ought to be easy.  They live better now.  If they can see more clearly they can relate a deeper hell and freely express a stronger heaven. #ABetterTomorrow titles the knowledge of their culture?  The theme of brothers living, making families off the struggled for knowledge of self.   Now or end?…

The DJ Allah Mathematics beat is one handclap snare on a one deep bassdrum with a lady soul’d wail throughout.  Technically the track is almost a reprise of “Y’all Been Warned” by True Master [off the 2001 Iron Flag LP] or a reworking of Allah Math’s own “Clap”, the bonus track on the Wu’s The W LP of 2000.  “Keep Watch” outdoes none of them.  Add the disgusting Nathaniel chorus singing official real talk unofficially, the track has an immediate hole.  Still, Allah Math has often chosen the wrong breaks on his tracks recently from much of his last LP, The Answer to Raekwon’s “Dart School.”  Here, the break is rightly chosen though overused.

As the standard Wu has become, meriting this build, the MCing is the holder of the blame and the lyrics have always been the problem.  The W is filled with enough successful RZA experimentation while Iron Flag has plenty of rugged Boom Bap.  Musically 8 Diagrams is stuck in the middle of them both.  However, the consistent faltering is the Wu MCs are not building on the mic and thus innovations sound like replays of old innovations.  Is it that most of the Gods of Wu don’t have any understanding of the Nation of God and Earth lessons that propelled their depth?  If so, is it because they praying to mysteries, living a lazier today and forgot 120?  It sure could be with many but is there any excuse such talent is stuck with just battle cleverness and often absent insight?  There shouldn’t be.  And GZA proves it all wrong.

Method Man has a flowing cleverness, rolling through his punchlines and precise pausing as always.  It only exposes the rare sight of Inspectah Deck stumbling on the flow.  Only a handful of MCs match Deck’s flow (i.e. Kool G Rap, BIG PUN, AZ, etc.) and once he translates for an average punchline he can’t get on the break again smoothly with any consistency.  After he chops his way through, Cappadonna enjoyably babbles bars with a freedom he has often lacked.  The verse is all cuts and pastes from his catalog except for the last four dynamic bars.  Finally, GZA, gives a verse that is on the vibe of his Dark Matter LP he is slowly crafting and constantly teaching the youth with.  That’s peace because the verse relates to the unity of the Wu and their intentions.  It’s the masterful metaphorizing GZA has always excelled at but with an updated content.  No one in Hip Hop today is writing verses as this.  If brothers rack up with this they are on a different topic or insight keeping GZA’s lane completely unique.  GZA said the Wu has nothing to prove.  It seems that Zen mindset of “no mind” to outside ciphers is what may let the Gods build new memories supremely.

THE GZA

 [GZA]

We left a large solar cloud distinguished by size

Interaction with the wise and civilized

The mind caused matter to fall into a center

A great deal of heat that’ll radiate within you

From out of this collision

The central cord became thick enough to trap its own light and bring vision

Each drop full of Hip Hop energy

Balanced on all sides such great symmetry

The bars unlocked the power of the stars

The mirror in the telescope pinpoint the Gods

From a distance, acting as a guiding coach

Analyze the board, universal approach

Retune the soul to a certain pitch

Changing the frequency frequently, hitting a certain switch

The love is paramount, the connect is brotherly

Respect for the intellect and broad discovery