For all of you born in the late 70s and early 80s here’s a few things that will likely make you start to feel kind of old – 2014 not only marks the 21st anniversary of the Wu-Tang Clan’s eponymous Enter The 36 Chambers, it also marks the 10th anniversary of Old Dirty Bastard’s tragic and yet not wholly unsurprising death. Also, December will mark the release of the legendary ensemble’s much-anticipated and latest effort, A Better Tomorrow – and the album, much like their last few releases has garnered a bit of controversy, which will either deem the album as a mere curiosity and footnote in the group’s history or as one of the more interesting albums the group has released in recent memory. As it stands, the last few albums have been marred by infighting among members of the group – most recently Raekwon has publicly feuded with the RZA over the group’s creative direction as the RZA has become increasingly experimental as a producer and over money. At times, the feuding was so vicious that it was reported that Raekwon refused to make an appearance on the album. Also, the RZA uses a number of Old Dirty Bastard vocal samples, which at times gives a ghostly pallor to the proceedings. And adding to the overall strangeness of the last few years, the RZA and cohorts have devised a few strange and revolutionary ways to release their efforts and pay homage to the special, tactile experience of purchasing and listening to an album – in fact, their previous effort, Once Upon A Time in Shaolin was recorded in secret and designed to be a museum-worthy piece in an intricately designed silver box, which currently is located in Morocco. And their latest effort sees an even more interesting delivery method with a number of singles being sold on a specially made boom box, which can can also stream other recorded material through Bluetooth. And the full-length album, in its entirety being released on December 2 through Warner Brothers Records. Ultimately, music fans will determine where this effort will stand. 

“Necklace” is one of the first singles from “A Better Tomorrow” and the single manages to continue the group’s reputation for emcee’s spinning tales of underworld crime but to moody, sparse beats paired with twinkling piano keys, and quick bursts of drum rolls that trail off into the ether. The sparse beats make each emcees rhymes seem much more menacing and almost grimly murderous yet absolutely pure street hip hop – while leaning heavily to the headphone hip-hop of Shabazz Palaces.