Wu-Tang Clan & Friends: Unreleased

Artist: MathematicsTitle: Wu-Tang Clan & Friends: UnreleasedRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Felipe Delerme

Wu-Tang Forever once spoke to the invincibility of one of the premier artist collectives in Hip-Hop, but is now little more than an album title. While there is no erasing history, outside of critical darling Ghostface, the Wu aesthetic continues to fade. Wu-Tang DJ, Allah Mathematics, has reached into the stash in an effort to preserve what once-and still-meant so much to so many. Mathematics Presents Wu-Tang & Friends: Unreleased (Nature Sounds Records) is a compilation of unreleased, remixed and original material compiled and produced by the DJ.

A new name to some, Mathematics has production credits on countless Wu tracks. The strength of the compilation therein lies in the production. Complete with extended vocal breaks, the tracks retain so much of their original samples they better embody musical "mash-ups" than simple backdrops for the MC's. This can be vital in instances where the extended family doesn't quite meet the lyrical standards set by the original members.

Unreleased is thick with Wu affiliates from the jump. "King Toast Queen," finds Masta Killa, Buddah Bless, and Solomon Childs in an ode to the magnificence of females. Countering "King Toast Queen," "Eggs, Hash and Grits," has M-Speed, Streetlife, and Drama with some pretty callous perspectives on how to treat the ladies. While some of the"darts" could stand to be a little sharper, newcomer Eyes Low speaks genuinely about his struggle on "Queens Day 88 (remix)": "Still I need a place to get away/ From all the drama and commotion, I'm stressed, with all this ganja and I’m smoking/...One day I'ma shine, but for now it’s one day at a time.” "Wise (remix)," a track initially slated to appear on Supreme Clientele, has Ghostface sounding as vulnerable over it's Teddy Pendergrass loop as he did originally rapping over the entire unaltered Dramatic's song, "In the Rain." The original was a jewel of the mixtapes it made it onto and the remix is a fitting adaptation.

At the height of their popularity, an association with the Clan translated directly into sales. But gone are the days of the Wu-Tang co-sign amounting to a bigger dollar sign. Yet and still, Mathematics offers a splendid compilation of material starring lesser known Wu affiliates along side original members. Wu-Tang ideology in all of its unrepentant, emotionally invested glory, Unreleased is a throwback to the days when Hip-Hop demanded originality and sincerity.