Wu-Tang Clan Return to Form on “Keep Watch”

Slate's Culture Blog
March 19 2014 12:55 PM

Wu-Tang Clan Return to Form on “Keep Watch”

166653561-wu-tang-clan-performs-onstage-during-day-3-of-the-2013_1
Hear the first single from A Better Tomorrow.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella

Seven years ago, iconic rap group Wu-Tang Clan released what many fans believed might be their fifth and final album, 8 Diagrams. That perceived final chapter of their unrivaled discography followed uncertain times for the Wu, three years after the death of founding member Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Solo projects, film ventures, one-off singles, and the odd compilation have tried to fill the Wu-Tang void ever since. 

But with the group’s 20th anniversary last year came the announcement of a brand new reunion LP, A Better Tomorrow. Originally meant to coincide with the anniversary, setbacks (including a reported “lack of energy” from members Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and GZA) pushed the album back until sometime this year. It appears, however, that GZA finally found whatever he was missing as he, along with Method Man, Cappadonna, and Inspectah Deck return to their prime in the album’s first single, “Keep Watch.”

Advertisement

Over a pounding drum and guitar beat constructed by longtime producer DJ Mathematics, Wu-Tang travel back to their defining early ’90s sound with sharp lyricism touching on subjects like police corruption and the metaphysical connection between hip-hop and a star’s life cycle (the latter, of course, from GZA). Surprisingly, the group add a dose of contemporary soul with a sleek hook from rising singer-songwriter Nathanial, demonstrating for the umpteenth time why the Wu-Tang are forever one of hip-hop’s finest.

“Keep Watch” is currently available for download here. You can also pre-order A Better Tomorrow on the Wu Music Group website, which includes a reassuring note that the album “is in the works and almost ready to ship.”

Update, 6:00 p.m.: In an interview with XXL, DJ Mathematics says A Better Tomorrow is scheduled for June 2014. He also says an alternate "mixed and mastered" version of "Keep Watch" will be released.

Dee Lockett is Slate's editorial assistant for culture.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 19 2014 1:56 PM Scotland’s Attack on the Status Quo Expect more political earthquakes across Europe.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 12:09 PM How Accelerators Have Changed Startup Funding
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Never Remember Anything
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 2:44 PM Where Do I Start With Mystery Science Theater 3000?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 12:38 PM Forward, March! Nine leading climate scientists urge you to attend the People’s Climate March.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.