In April 2013, Wu-Tang Clan announced a 20th anniversary album to be called A Better Tomorrow slated for release that July. To follow that announcement, they dropped the record’s first single “Family Reunion;” a song which begins with Method Man saying “it’s good to see the Wu-Tang family under one roof.” But the Wu-Tang family didn’t stay under one roof for long. The infighting began shortly after the track’s release, mainly between Raekwon and RZA. The spat saw the record pushed back a year and a half until this November.
Raekwon’s main gripe with the record was the musical direction RZA was pushing which shouldn’t be surprising. 2007’s 8 Diagrams saw Raekwon and Ghostface Killah both mount protests on the record not having a classic Wu-Tang sound. A Better Tomorrow features a few tracks that definitely have classic Wu-Tang written all over them but there is still a decent amount of experimentation that may or may not appease Wu-Tang fans.
Both “Felt” and “40th Street Black/We Will Fight” feature an electronic-tinge using more dancey drums than Wu-Tang’s classic raw kit. “40th Street” imparticular has a very Outkast feel to it with its marching band horns and easily sung-along chorus. The two tracks represent what happens when Wu-Tang experiments go right. But for every right, there seem to be a couple wrongs. Take “Miracle” for instance where the long sung R&B chorus is too painful to sit through more than once or “Preacher’s Daughter” and “A Better Tomorrow” which feature such painfully obvious soul samples that they sound campy.
In the end, the highlights of A Better Tomorrow are those classic Wu-Tang joints that Raekwon and Ghostface were fighting for. Tracks like “Keep Watch” and “Necklace” immediately receive a place in the “best Wu-Tang songs” conversation. Unfortunately hamfisted sampling and experimentation keeps the album from being anywhere near the conversation for Wu-Tang’s best.