Wu-Tang Clan Drop ‘8 Diagrams’ Album – Today in Hip-Hop
On this day, Dec. 11, in hip-hop history...
2007: A whole six years since the release of their previous album as a single unit, the Wu-Tang Clan reunited by dropping their fifth official studio album, 8 Diagrams, on December 11, 2007 through SRC/Universal Motown Records.
In the early part of that year, The RZA announced that a full Wu-Tang Clan reunion was imminent with the upcoming release of 8 Diagrams, which would serve as the crew's first project as a unit since the tragic passing of Ol' Dirty Bastard. The long-awaited reunion album was originally set for release in November '07, but was eventually delayed, sparking a bit of drama that involved a few of the original Wu members themselves.
Rumor has it that the first time the project was pushed back, the release date was intended to be December 4, 2007, the same day that Def Jam planned to drop Ghostface Killah's next solo LP, The Big Doe Rehab. That did not sit well at all with Tony Starks. In fact, seemingly nothing about the 8 Diagrams album did, with both Ghost and Raekwon publicly voicing their disdain for the project and they way RZA handled the whole thing. "8 Diagrams, I couldn’t stand it ‘cause I know us, and then I know my man [RZA] even more," Ghost said in a 2013 interview with XXL. "I’m like, 'Yo, how could you give our fucking people that?' Now you had people that said, 'Oh no, I liked it.' That might be the 'yes men' niggas. You know what I mean? Or it’s a miss or something ‘cause I know how we can be. These motherfuckers wanted the skits. They wanted to feel like they at home with us. They wanna feel like, 'Y’all didn’t hear this in a long time. What y’all got now?'"
In the wake of the Shaolin crew's inner turmoil, the highly-anticipated project was pushed back again, finally seeing the light of day on December 11, 2007, with contributions from all nine of the original Wu-Tang members, including a small amount of material from Ol' Dirty Bastard that was recorded before his untimely passing in 2004. Among tracks almost exclusively produced by RZA, veteran producer Easy Mo Bee made his way onto the 14-track album's credits, co-producing the song "Take It Back," alongside the aforementioned Bobby Digital.
8 Diagrams also contained a few features, most notably from funk legend George Clinton on the "Wolves" track, and Erykah Badu on the single, "The Heart Gently Weeps," which was a re-worked adaptation of The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." The single release also featured guitar parts from both Dhani Harrison, the son of late Beatles guitarist George Harrison, and John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Between the controversy and criticism from some the group's members, judgement from some of the internet hip-hop heads who panned the album from the jump and praise from music critics who genuinely liked the album, 8 Diagrams received mixed reviews that were all over the place. Ultimately, the project performed well, peaking at number 25 on the Billboard 200 and number 9 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Although the album was, for the most part, successful, it's safe to say 8 Diagrams won't be remade by a new crop of MCs on its 25th anniversary, like the Killa Bees' classic debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) is said to be.
If the Wu ever decides to come together to put out another album as a unit, it's been reported that the bulk of the creative control will be handled by Ghostface Killah, as opposed to The Rza.
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