Wu-Tang Forever

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Wu-Tang Forever
The cover features a globe with the Wu-Tang logo over it, the group below it, and the album title below them. Both the globe logo and the album title are colored in gray.
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 3, 1997
GenreHardcore hip hop
Length44:58 (disc 1)
67:08 (disc 2–US)
77:53 (disc 2–international)
Wu-Tang Clan chronology
Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Wu-Tang Forever
The W
Singles from Wu-Tang Forever
  1. "Triumph"
    Released: February 11, 1997
  2. "It's Yourz"
    Released: September 23, 1997
  3. "Reunited"
    Released: November 24, 1997

Wu-Tang Forever is the second studio album of American hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan, released June 3, 1997, on Loud/RCA Records in the United States. Pressed as a double album, it was released after a long run of successful solo projects from various members of the group, and serves as the follow-up to their debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Forever features several guest appearances from Wu-Tang affiliates Cappadonna, Streetlife, 4th Disciple, True Master, and Tekitha. The original run of compact discs featured an "Enhanced CD" which allowed users to walk around the "Wu Mansion" and access additional content.

Music and lyrics[edit]


While the group's previous album is known for its minimalistic production style, producer RZA had been expanding the musical backdrop of each solo Wu-Tang album since then. Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., in particular, was praised for its cinematic feel. RZA earned accolades for his new dense style of production, incorporating strings, heavy synthesizers, and the kung-fu samples of old. The production of the record also pioneered RZA's technique of chopping up and speeding up soul samples so that it becomes unusually high-pitched; this style of production would later become influential on producers such as Just Blaze and Kanye West.[1][2] Wu-Tang Forever marked the first group album in which RZA assigned some of the album's production to Wu-Tang protégés True Master and 4th Disciple, as well as Wu-Tang member Inspectah Deck.

Lyrical themes[edit]

The lyrics differed in many ways from those of 36 Chambers, with many verses written in stream-of-consciousness style, while being influenced by the teachings of the Five-Percent Nation. The group showed mature depth, speaking on the pitfalls of life's vices ("A Better Tomorrow") and the harsh realities of inner city life. "Impossible", for instance, touches on the less-than-glamorous realities of the same violence that the group often raps about.

The Clan took advantage of the double-disc format, allowing each of the nine members a significant number of appearances, including four solo tracks. Several have been recognized as particularly strong performances.

Inspectah Deck raised his stock in the public eye with The Source's Hip-Hop Quotable for his performance on "Triumph".[3] This verse is considered one of the greatest in hip-hop.[4] Despite being one of the last members to release a solo album, Deck's contributions throughout Wu-Tang Forever led to him being a sought-after collaborator for other artists; he would appear on subsequent tracks with Gang Starr, Pete Rock and Big Pun, among others.

Ghostface Killah continued his rise to fame with a verse in "Impossible", hailed by RZA in the Wu-Tang Manual as "the greatest Wu-Tang verse ever written". It was also featured in The Source's Hip-Hop Quotable. "Cash Still Rules/Scary Hours" has also been noted as one of Ghostface’s more memorable verses on the album, notable for the way in which the verse cuts off, first popularizing the feel that he could "go on forever". Ghostface Killah would follow his work on Forever with Supreme Clientele, which is generally regarded as a classic.[5]

"The sum of our parts is worth all the organizing," said Method Man. "It's like the Power Rangers where they come together to form that Megazord shit. Them guys are lethal but, when they come together, it's even more incredible. This album will destroy every hip-hop record made in the past ten years."[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Chicago Tribune[8]
Entertainment WeeklyA[9]
The Guardian[10]
Los Angeles Times[11]
Rolling Stone[14]
USA Today[16]

Upon its release, Wu-Tang Forever received positive reviews from music critics, who praised RZA's production work and the group members' lyricism. Matt Diehl from Entertainment Weekly commented, "Forever continues the group's artistic grand slam. Like their forebears in Public Enemy, Wu-Tang are musical revolutionaries, unafraid to bring the noise along with their trunk of funk. The RZA allows a few outside producers behind the board this time, but it's his gritty samples and numbing beats that get the party moving."[9] Sasha Frere-Jones from Spin called it an album "for hip-hop junkies, rhyme followers who want to hear their favorite sword-swallowers drop unusually good styles over unusually good beats."[15] Comparing some of the album's production to that of Wu-Tang member GZA's Liquid Swords (also produced by RZA), Neil Strauss from The New York Times wrote a favorable review of the album and stated "Wu-Tang Forever is a smooth, clean set of 25 songs and two speeches, with only a few throwaways on the second CD. The Wu-Tang Clan offers something for every kind of rap fan. More important, after a four-year wait, on Wu-Tang Forever the Clan retains its mantle as rap's standard bearers."[17] Melody Maker gave Wu-Tang Forever a favorable review as well, stating "It had to be this big. It didn't have to be this good ... Every single track is a detonation of every single pop rule you thought sacrosanct ...Forever is one of the greatest hip hop LPs of all time."[18] Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic stated:

Where contemporaries like 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. issued double-discs cluttered with filler, Wu-Tang Forever is purposeful and surprisingly lean, illustrating the immense depth of producer RZA and the entire nine-piece crew ... The result is an intoxicating display of musical and lyrical virtuosity, one that reveals how bereft of imagination the Wu-Tang's contemporaries are.[7]

Describing the album's lyrics as "hauntingly descriptive tales of ghetto hustlers and victims," Rolling Stone's Nathan Brackett stated "The whole of Wu-Tang Forever crackles with a shootout-at-midnight electricity that more than justifies the double-disc indulgence, while the back-and-forth wordfire of Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, etc. confirms the Clan's singular zing at the mic, and their ghetto-wise might as storytellers."[14] Cheo Hodari Coker from the Los Angeles Times commented, "The Clan's beats push the limit between cutting-edge hip-hop and industrial feedback, with jugular-clutching rhymes following their own melodic dictates and insular messages running the gamut from ancient maxims of the art of war to spiritual knowledge, wisdom and understanding from the Islamic Five Percent Nation."[11] Steve Jones from USA Today wrote, "Hip-hop's most anticipated album crackles with the nine-member clan's unique hard-core rhymes and beats. On this two-disc, 112-minute set, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. The RZA avoids overproduction, using the beats to propel the lyrics, and keeps the music free of clichéd R&B loops."[16] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave the album a two-star honorable mention rating and called the Wu-Tang Clan "the five per cent nation of Oscar aspirations".[19] In 2018, the BBC included it in their list of "the acclaimed albums that nobody listens to any more."[20]


Wu-Tang Forever was ranked as one of the best albums of the year by several notable publications, such as Spin, The Village Voice, NME and Melody Maker.[21] Popular Belgium magazine HUMO, and popular German magazine Spex both ranked it number six on their albums of the year lists.[21] In 1999, Ego Trip ranked Wu-Tang Forever number three on their Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980–98 list.[21] In their March 2005 issue, Hip Hop Connection ranked the album number 57 on their 100 Greatest Rap Albums 1995–2005 list.[21] Also in 2005, Blow Up magazine from Italy included Wu-Tang Forever in their 600 Essential Albums list.[21] It also earned the group a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards.

Commercial performance[edit]

Despite limited radio/TV airplay, and the nearly-six minute lead single "Triumph" which features no chorus, Wu-Tang Forever debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 612,000 copies sold in its first week.[22] The album was certified 4× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on October 15, 1997 (each disc in the double album counted as separate unit for certification purpose),[23] selling over 4 million copies in the United States.[24] It is the group's highest selling album to date.

Track listing[edit]

Track listing information is taken from the official liner notes and AllMusic.[25][26]

Wu-Tang Forever – Disc 1
1."Wu-Revolution" (featuring Poppa Wu and Uncle Pete)Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA6:46
2."Reunited"Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA5:21
3."For Heavens Sake" (featuring CappaDonna)
The RZA4:13
4."Cash Still Rules/Scary Hours (Still Don't Nothing Move but the Money)"
4th Disciple3:01
5."Visionz"Wu-Tang ClanInspectah Deck3:09
6."As High as Wu-Tang Get"Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA2:37
7."Severe Punishment"Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA4:49
8."Older Gods"
  • Wu-Tang Clan
  • S. Bougard
4th Disciple3:05
9."Maria" (featuring CappaDonna)
  • Wu-Tang Clan
  • D. Hill
The RZA2:55
10."A Better Tomorrow"
  • Wu-Tang Clan
  • S. Bougard
4th Disciple4:55
11."It's Yourz"Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA4:17
Total length:45:08
Wu-Tang Forever – Disc 2
1."Intro"Wu-Tang Clan 2:02
2."Triumph" (featuring CappaDonna)Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA5:38
3."Impossible" (featuring Tekitha)
  • Wu-Tang Clan
  • S. Bougard
  • 4th Disciple
  • The RZA (co.)
4."Little Ghetto Boys" (featuring CappaDonna)
  • Wu-Tang Clan
  • D. Hill
  • E. Deroven
  • EU Howard
The RZA4:49
5."Deadly Melody" (featuring Street Life)Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA4:20
6."The City"
  • Wu-Tang Clan
  • S. Bougard
4th Disciple4:05
7."The Projects"Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA3:18
8."Bells of War"Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA5:12
9."The M.G.M."
True Master2:38
10."Dog Shit"Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA3:34
11."Duck Seazon"Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA5:42
12."Hellz Wind Staff" (featuring Street Life)Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA4:52
13."Heaterz" (featuring CappaDonna)
  • Wu-Tang Clan
  • D. Harris
  • D. Hill
True Master5:26
14."Black Shampoo"Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA3:50
15."Second Coming" (featuring Tekitha)
The RZA4:38
16."The Closing"Wu-Tang Clan 2:37
Total length:67:09
Wu-Tang Forever – Disc 2: bonus tracks for Europe and Japan
17."Sunshower"R. DiggsThe RZA6:10
18."Projects International Remix"Wu-Tang ClanThe RZA3:59
Total length:77:14


  • "Wu-Revolution" contains uncredited backing vocals by Blue Raspberry.
  • "Reunited" contains backing vocals by Roxanne.
  • "Projects" contains uncredited vocals by Shyheim.
  • "Black Shampoo" contains uncredited vocals by P.R. Terrorist and Tekitha.

Sample list




Certifications for Wu-Tang Forever
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[46] 2× Platinum 200,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[47] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[48] 4× Platinum 2,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tyrangiel, Josh (August 21, 2005). "Why You Can't Ignore Kanye". Time. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  2. ^ Gale – Free Resources – Black History – Biographies – Kanye West
  3. ^ "Hip-Hop Quotable: "Triumph", Inspectah Deck". The Source. June 1997. Retrieved September 13, 2010.
  4. ^ The AllHipHop Top 20 Dopest Verses Ever!. allhiphop.com. retrieved July 17, 2010.
  5. ^ "Supreme Clientele accolades and ratings". acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  6. ^ Wilkinson, Roy (July 1997). "One of these men is God". Select. p. 56.
  7. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Wu-Tang Forever – Wu-Tang Clan". AllMusic. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  8. ^ Kot, Greg (June 20, 1997). "Wu-Tang Clan: Wu-Tang Forever (Loud)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Diehl, Matt (June 6, 1997). "Wu-Tang Forever". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  10. ^ Bennun, David (May 23, 1997). "Embraceable Wu". The Guardian.
  11. ^ a b Coker, Cheo Hodari (June 1, 1997). "Menacing Fiddles and Passion From Wu-Tang". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 22, 2016. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  12. ^ Robinson, John (May 31, 1997). "Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". NME. Archived from the original on August 17, 2000. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  13. ^ Pierre, Alphonse (October 9, 2022). "Wu-Tang Clan: Wu-Tang Forever Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  14. ^ a b Brackett, Nathan (June 26, 1997). "Wu-Tang Clan: Wu-Tang Forever". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 9, 2009. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  15. ^ a b Frere-Jones, Sasha (September 1997). "Wu-Tang Clan: Wu-Tang Forever". Spin. 13 (6): 154. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  16. ^ a b Jones, Steve (June 10, 1997). "'Forever': Rap with the tang of realism". USA Today. Archived from the original on March 17, 2016. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  17. ^ Strauss, Neil (June 10, 1997). "Strains of Violin in Slick, Smooth Rap". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  18. ^ "Wu-Tang Clan: Wu-Tang Forever". Melody Maker: 49. May 31, 1997.
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Wu-Tang Clan: Wu-Tang Forever". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  20. ^ Hewitt, Ben (February 9, 2018). "7 acclaimed albums that no one listens to anymore". BBC.
  21. ^ a b c d e Wu-Tang Forever accolades and ratings. acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  22. ^ [dead link]Gundersen, Edna. Rap's latest chart powerhouse: 'Wu-Tang Forever'. USA Today. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  23. ^ RIAA search: Wu-Tang Forever RIAA. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  24. ^ Grein, Paul (April 3, 2014). "New Wu-Tang Clan Album: The Case for the World's First $5 Million Album". Yahoo! Music.
  25. ^ Wu-Tang Forever (booklet). Wu-Tang Clan. RCA/BMG/Loud Records. 1997. BVCP-3116~17.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  26. ^ "Wu-Tang Forever - Wu-Tang Clan". AllMusic. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  27. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". Hung Medien.
  28. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever" (in German). Hung Medien.
  29. ^ a b "Ultratop.be – Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  30. ^ "Wu-Tang Clan Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard.
  31. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  32. ^ "Wu-Tang Clan: Wu-Tang Forever" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  33. ^ "Lescharts.com – Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". Hung Medien.
  34. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts.
  35. ^ "Charts.nz – Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". Hung Medien.
  36. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". Hung Medien.
  37. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  38. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". Hung Medien.
  39. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". Hung Medien.
  40. ^ "Wu-Tang Clan | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart.
  41. ^ "Wu-Tang Clan Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  42. ^ "Wu-Tang Clan Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard.
  43. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  44. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1997". Billboard. January 2, 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  45. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Year-End 1997". Billboard. January 2, 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  46. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Wu-Tang Clan – Forever". Music Canada. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  47. ^ "British album certifications – Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  48. ^ "American album certifications – Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". Recording Industry Association of America.

External links[edit]