So the legendary Wu-Tang Clan aren’t what they once were. Once you accept that, their new music will be far more palatable. Unfortunately, as Jeff Weiss eloquently lays out here, it is impossible to not compare the new with the old and to come to conclusions regarding the state of the group and its worth within your own personal life. That’s why I’m going to focus on BadBadNotGood instead. On the late side of 40, Rae, Ghost, U-God and Kool G Rap come as correct as you’d expect them to on a RZA/Quentin Tarantino project. I’ll leave it at that.
Back in April, I was lucky enough to see BadBadNotGood not once, not twice, but 6 or 7 (it’s a little murky) times at Coachella. The Toronto youngsters were the house band and performed warm up/cool down sets in the campground before and after the festival each day and to be honest with you, it was probably my favorite part of the festival. In just over a year, the trio has gone from unknown jazz/hip hop cover band to, and I might be off-base here, but the best/go-to live band in hip hop that is not named The Roots. They’ve covered everyone from James Blake to Waka Flocka and performed with Frank Ocean and Pharaoh Monch… just to name a few. Recently, BadBadNotGood have dipped their toes into the production pool… and when I say dipped their toes, I mean gone the fuck in with some of the most legendary MCs in history.
Continue after the jump…
If you haven’t heard, RZA is soundtracking Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, The Man With The Iron Fists, and has enlisted Yeezy (nice), Freddie Gibbs (!), Wiz Khalifa (…), and The Black Keys (meh) among others to contribute. The list probably would have made my balls prematurely drop 15 years ago (you know, like, when Isaac Hayes was like, still alive), but it’s pretty underwhelming at this point, Regardless, BadBadNotGood co-produce two songs with the (suitably) kung foo film referencing Frank Dukes. “Rivers of Blood” is the first of the two (stream below) and features the aforementioned Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, U-God and Kool G Rap.
After the whole quintessentially Wu cinematic intro, Alexander Sowinski’s savage drums come crashing in with deadly precision. If you’ve ever seen BadBadNotGood live, you know that they can fucking jam, inciting moshing and headbanging like few acts even vaguely associated with jazz can. Chester Hanson’s (who has to be one of the more awkward performers I’ve ever witnessed… in the best way possible) bass rumbles below an unsettling distorted trombone/trumpet unison, disregarding any notion of funk in the instrument. Keyboardist and all around badman Matthew Tavares stays in a low key, taking a more understated roll than usual, still managing to push his contribution as one of the track’s highlights.
There’s a little bit of punk attitude here, like BBNG is telling the world they aren’t scared to be playing around with the legends. And that’s really what they’re doing. They’re still a jam band. An insanely talented one, but a jam band nonetheless. But have you ever seen a jam band highlight on a Wu-Tang/Kool G Rap song? That’s laughable. The soundtrack will be in stores on October 22 (and on the internet before then) and I am readily awaiting the second BBNG production. The rest of the soundtrack, not so much.