Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) [Loud/RCA, 1993]
They are or have been, if not "gangstas," at the very least dealers. But note that the slice of life where they doctor their wares with baking soda is decisively jokier than the tragic-sounding hit where they sell them on the corner. They aren't just grander than their West Coast opposite numbers, they're also goofier, and both are improvements. Expect the masterwork this album's reputation suggests and you'll probably be disappointed--it will speak directly only to indigenous hip hoppers. Expect a glorious human mess, as opposed to the ominous platinum product of their opposite numbers, and you'll realize the dope game isn't everyone's dead-end street. A-