Monday, May 5, 2008

Wu-Tang Forever

''Wu-Tang Forever''
With their solo careers firmly established, the Wu-Tang Clan reassembled to release the highly-anticipated Grammy-nominated multiplatinum [[double album]] ''[[Wu-Tang Forever]]'' in June 1997, debuting at number one on the Billboard Charts. This event was featured in a [[CNN]] roundup for the extraordinary sales the group achieved without a mainstream sound or [[pop music|commercial]] appeal. The album's first single, "[[Triumph (Wu-Tang Clan song)|Triumph]]," was over five minutes long, featured nine verses (one from each member plus Cappadonna and excluding O.D.B.), and no hook or a repeated phrase. The sound of the album built significantly on the previous three solo albums, with The RZA using more keyboards and string samples, as well as, for the first time, assigning some of the album's production to his protégés [[True Master]] and [[4th Disciple]]. The group's lyrics differed significantly from those of ''36 Chambers'', with many verses written in a dense [[Stream of consciousness writing|stream-of-consciousness]] form heavily influenced by the teachings of the [[Five Percent Nation]]. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album has sold over 8.3 million copies to date worldwide.

''Wu-Tang Forever'' also marked the end of The RZA's "five year plan". After ''...Forever'''s success, The RZA ceased to oversee all aspects of Wu-Tang product as he had done previously, delegating much of his existing role to associates such as Oli "Power" Grant and his brother Mitchell "Divine" Diggs. This move was designed to expand Wu-Tang's reach in the industry and take advantage of financial opportunities for the group. In keeping with this move, an array of Wu-Tang products (both musical and otherwise) were to be released over the next two years.

Following ''Wu-Tang Forever'', the focus of the Wu-Tang empire largely shifted to the promoting of emerging affiliated artists (referred to by the fanbase as "Wu-Family"). The group's close associate Cappadonna followed the group project with March 1998's ''[[The Pillage]]''. Soon after, [[Killah Priest]] (as with Cappadonna, a close associate of the Clan, though not an official member) released ''[[Heavy Mental]]'' to great critical acclaim. Affiliated groups [[Sunz of Man]] (of which Killah Priest was a member) and [[Killarmy]] (which included The RZA's younger brother) also released well-received albums, followed by ''[[Wu-Tang Killa Bees: The Swarm]]'' - a compilation album showcasing these and more Wu-affiliated artists, and including new solo tracks from the group members themselves. ''The Swarm'' sold well and was certified [[RIAA Certification|gold]]

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