“8 Diagrams” Is About to Become Reality

OnSmash has a 20-minute preview of the Wu-Tang Clan’s new album, 8 Diagrams, consisting almost entirely of interviews with group members. You hear a little bit of music, but mainly it’s Method Man giggling about nudity on European TV, Raekwon side-stepping issues of depression, RZA talking about collaborating with other producers, and most everyone dealing (or not dealing) awkwardly with the absence of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. (Ghostface is conspicuously absent, although later in the video they explain that he does appear on three tracks; Masta Killa also seems to have skipped out.) It’s fairly interesting, but just the fact that they’re making another album is notable: While the touring market for old rap acts is extremely lucrative, no more so than for the Wu, in terms of records, no rap act has made a successful comeback.

As the Wu members point out, they’ve been around long enough to have parent-and-kid teams of fans, and that’s generally not a quality that implies success in the rap world. So why do something that smells like a flop? Well, because they work so well together, it seems like–or to be less charitable, because nobody’s doing that well on their own now. Ghostface used to be a minor member, but now his modestly selling (and critically acclaimed) albums are the most successful solo efforts the Wu’s got going. Method Man released an absolute clunker of an album earlier this year, RZA hasn’t done a non-soundtrack album in four years, and Raekwon’s gearing up for, of all things, a sequel. (Which may end up being great, but still.)

Everybody in the group’s got issues, whether with each other (the eight diagrams of the title are each member’s different agenda, and just getting together for the reunion shows involved something of a struggle) or with himself–aside from the aforementioned depression, everyone seems very defensive, especially Meth, and for a bunch of guys who can rightly be called legends, that’s awfully strange. So what they’re doing, seems like, is both embracing the fact that they do work best as a unit, and trying to redefine what success means–since, after all, certain people think you’re not actually making hip-hop if you don’t go platinum. In the end, though, all that’ll really matter to old fans and new ones alike is if the album’s good. Here’s hoping.

Wu-Tang Clan EPK [OnSmash]