Something amazing happened on July 17, 2004, something many were skeptical would ever happen: the Wu-Tang Clan got together, every one of them, to give the performance of a lifetime.
It may not have seemed like it at the time, but the concert featured on the new CD/DVD set Disciples of the 36 Chambers may well be the pinnacle of the career of these hip-hop icons, especially considering the recent death of founding member Ol' Dirty Bastard. The story of this cultural force is certainly long and complex and Disciples seems like a climactic, if not stunning, tribute to the achievements the rappers have made.
At its core, Disciples is just another concert release. In reality, the CD and DVD combo is so much more. Containing 27 tracks spanning the clan's four albums and some of the members' solo projects, the set is an accolade to the clan. The impressive girth and diversity of the tracks serve to represent just how long and impressive the careers of these rappers have been. The DVD furthers the clan's legacy, lacing interview footage of clan members waxing philosophical on their years in the spotlight with concert footage.
Watching RZA, GZA, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killa, O.D.B., Raekwon, U-God and Masta Killa--however ridiculous their names are, rap to an audience that has as many whites as blacks, one truly gets a sense of just how far reaching this group has been culturally.
The message dropped at the end of the album is one of hope for a new album. Of course more is better, but the legacy of the Wu-Tang Clan would be just fine if the sonic dynasty ended with Disciples.