Among the traits that set Wu-Tang Clan apart in the ’90s and 2000s, the hip-hop scene is their incredible lyricism and showmanship, which set the bar for many other hip-hop acts to follow. They are often referred to as the pioneers of East Coast hip hop and hardcore hip hop. Wu-Tang Clan was ranked as the greatest hip hop group of all time by About in 2008. Their discography features seven impressive albums, the latest of which was released in 2015. Here are the seven Wu-Tang Clan albums ranked.
7. Once Upon a Time in Shaolin (2015)
Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was recorded in utmost secrecy for over six years and is the latest Wu-Tang Clan studio album. The album has sold only one copy which American CEO Martin Shkreli bought for an undisclosed price at an auction. However, the album remains to be the most expensive work of music ever sold. The album was recorded in New York, produced in Morrocco, and featured Wu-Tang Clan and rapper Redman. It also included FC Barcelona players Wu-Tang Killer Beez and Carice Van Houten of Game of Thrones. The album was produced by Cilvaringz, who designed it as an art project due to online piracy and streaming, which had weakened the value of music. Although many fans criticized the news of a single copy album, the album has been certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the most valuable album globally.
6. A Better Tomorrow (2014)
A Better Tomorrow was released in 2014 to mark the 20th anniversary of the group. Although the album is not their strongest, it did have some amazing singles, such as “Keep Watch.” The album featured some half-baked tracks, and it was clear that the group was not on the same page following constant from Raekwon to RZA during interviews. Raekwon was concerned about the group’s creativity in the album as well as the group’s business side. The album debuted at number 29 on the Billboard 200 and got an average rating of 60/100 on Metacritic.
5. 8 Diagrams (2007)
Three years after the death of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Wu-Tang Clan returned with a psych-tinged album that would cause division even in their own camp. The album opens with a decent verse from Method Man in the track, “Campfire.” Like most of their earlier albums, 8 DIagrams contained various Kung-Fu samples, and RZA’s lurching beats gave the album a great sound. The album was positively reviewed by music critics, with many of them impressed by their razor-sharp lyrics that deepen every time you listen to the record. The album debuted at number 25 on the US Billboard 200 and sold 68,000 copies within the first week.
4. Iron Flag (2001)
Iron Flag was a great album, and many people argue that it was due to the fact that the group wanted to dispel rumors that they were on the verge of breaking up. The album’s intro is the track “In the Hood,” which also happens to be one of the better album intros. The number two track, “Rules,” is slightly better than the intro, though. However, it seems more commercial than underground hip hop. The fourth track on the album is “Soul Power,” which features Flavor Flav from Public Enemy in the chorus. The real reason behind the inclusion of Flavor Flav is to fill up the absence of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The standout track in the album is “Radioactive,” which has a superhero feel both musically and lyrically.
3. The W (2000)
The number three album in our ranking of the greatest Wu-Tang Clan albums is their 2000 record, The W. This album was more rugged and featured guest appearances from Snoop Dogg, Nas, Busta Rhymes, and Redman. It is also the group’s last album to feature Ol’ Dirty Bastard before his untimely passing in 2004. The album dominated most ‘album of the year” lists from several American and International publishers such as Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, NME, The Wire, and many more. The album debuted at #5 on the US Billboard 200 and top position on the US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums Chart. The album was also certified platinum by the RIAA on 14th December 2000.
2. Wu-Tang Forever (1997)
Wu-Tang Forever is the group’s sophomore album, released in 1997 at a time when double album releases were very common. After Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s The Art of War and Notorious B.I.G’s Life After Death, the double discs trend on albums was in full swing, and this album was no different. The album received positive reviews from music critics, with most group members delivering great performances on the album. Ghostface Killah was quite impressive on the album’s third track, “Impossible,” where he delivered one of the group’s greatest verses. Inspectah Deck also raised his profile on the track, “Triumph,” where he delivered what is considered the greatest verse in hip hop history.
1. Enter The Wu-Tang (1993)
Enter the Wu-Tang is one of hip hop’s greatest albums and an album responsible for revolutionizing the sound of business of hip hop forever. In terms of the album’s status, it is on the same level as classic albums such as Illmatic and The Chronic. It was Wu-Tang’s debut album, and the name of the album was inspired by the 1972 movie, Enter the Dragon and the 1978 movie The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. The album was raw and featured some tremendous underground sounds, and despite this, it was a surprise chart success. The album featured some ferocious bars that showed just how talented and creative the group’s MCs were. Most of the songs in the album sound as if they are straight from a street cipher. The album peaked at position 41 on the US Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum on 15th May 1995.