Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) vs. Gang Starr’s Moment Of Truth. Which Is Better?
One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?
“Finding The GOAT Album” has considered more than 120 albums from the 80s, 90s and 2000s (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. Now that you and your vote have decided the final 32 albums (including Wild Cards), the final rounds begin.
In the early 1990s, RZA and DJ Premier rolled together—with the two producers reportedly talking shop in Brooklyn. By the end of the decade, these two men—key players in the East Coast Hip-Hop sound, had not only aided countless artists hone their skills, they had legendary outfits they bolstered. Wu-Tang Clan and Gang Starr have ruggedness, troop mentality, and street savvy in their names alone. In audio, both groups only expound on those concrete reputations with wisdom, flare, and purebred Hip-Hop styles. 1993’s crew debut, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) is RZA’s finest hour. The Abbott moved his unit like chess pieces, that swarmed the board with individualized gifts and tons of style. Similarly, Gang Starr’s Moment Of Truth would be Premier’s most lethal concoction of samples, scratches, and arrangements. These two producers, combined with the tremendous lyrical gifts surrounding them, flipped the conventions of commercially-successful Rap music on their head. After bringing the ruckus to two classic albums, will Wu-Tang mash on the Gang Starr jewel? Or will one of the Wild Card winners form the militia for the upset? Only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click (Click one then click “vote”).
Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by Wu-Tang Clan
- Second Round Winner (against Mobb Deep’s The Infamous, 77% to 23%)
- First Round Winner (against De La Soul’s De La Soul Is Dead, 82% to 18%)
In late 1993, Wu-Tang Clan bum-rushed the show when they brought their own menacing cacophonous raucous. Enter The Wu-Tang is a tour de force of rugged raps, filthy beats, and a style that made Hip-Hop’s early ’90s elite get out of the way, handing over the mic. RZA, GZA, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah, U-God, Masta Killa, Method Man, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard were against the odds when they brought nine bodies to a Loud/RCA Records-backed album, and made all seem as organized as a rank-and-file military branch. With every MC offering something different, each vocalist distinguished himself with skill, vocal tone, and flow. From acts like The Rebel I.N.S. taking on lion’s share roles to M.K.’s lone verse, the family did no favors to each other—and showed its own agitated quarrels in the interludes. Although they had their own internal dynamics, the Wu brought an unrivaled sense of family pride to outsiders. Songs like smash single “C.R.E.A.M.” and follow-up “Can It All Be Simple” proved that the common theme of hardships made this unit a pack of hungry wolves who resented aristocratic peers. Save for GZA and RZA, all the MCs were burgeoning to wax since 1992’s “Protect Ya Neck.” However, from O.D.B.’s “Shame On A Nigga” timing, to the “Method Man” routine all presented styles that felt like they were bottled in 1988, but fermenting, and getting all the more intoxicating while waiting for their chance. On one hand, Wu-Tang was futuristic in their dismissal of conventions. On the other, this was a head-trip back to the days of the late ’80s underground—battling in a smoke-filled train car.
36 Chambers, as the album is often affectionately called, is a beautiful testament to RZA’s visionary gift. In addition to delivering the most lucid, razor-sharp verses of his career, Robert Diggs made an album that sounded electric, alive, and dangerous. Break-beat arrangements on songs like “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit” and “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber – Part II” were accentuated with organs, special effects, and muted horns. While Dr. Dre was out in Los Angeles, setting chronic highs to three-wheel motion, RZA laced his jagged basslines with audio angel dust. With its rough texture, the album is incredibly cohesive, making skipping implausible if not impossible. Enter The Wu-Tang captivated Hip-Hop. It restored the comparative nature of over-stuffed Rap crews. It made every minute of an album feel precious internally and externally. The LP also made the Hip-Hop act feel like a militia, an outlaw posse, or a flash mob of witty, unpredictable voices with natural game. This LP not only served its nine creators with plush careers that followed, it made the industry take closer notice of what was really going on in the streets. For 15 years, Staten Island was the ignored borough. Also with MCs from the Bronx and Brooklyn, the Clan made the short-sighted Manhattan labels not only scared, but surrounded.
Album Number: 1 (as a group)
Released: November 9, 1993
Label: Loud/RCA Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #41 (certified gold, March 1994; certified platinum, May 1995)
Song Guests: 4th Disciple
Song Producers: (self)
Moment Of Truth by Gang Starr
- Wild Card (1997-2015) Winner (14% of overall votes)
In Gang Starr’s history, never before had it taken a four-year lapse between albums. Following 1994’s acclaimed Hard To Earn, Guru and DJ Premier focused on solo endeavors, as well as the Gang Starr Foundation. Fifth album Moment Of Truth was the duo returning to collect their props—with interest owed. Guru’s righteous, street smart rhymes were the ultimate counterbalance to the Rap industry’s posturing, materialism, and vicious undertones. Preemo had used his talents to provide sonic launchpads for Nas, Jay Z, and the late Notorious B.I.G. since the last Gang Starr album. Together, Gang Starr had been the bedrock of the burgeoning Underground Hip-Hop soil, and ironclad products of the ’80s at once. Refining everything that had made the group beloved on the first four group albums, Moment Of Truth set Gang Starr free to enjoy the commercial and critical success of their devotion.
“You Know My Steez” is as telling an album opener as any in 1990s Hip-Hop. Gang Starr was not out to reinvent the wheel. Instead, they simply demonstrated how everybody else was spinning it wrong. Confident, cool, and edgy, the single snatched the style of Hip-Hop back from what was on TV and radio. “The Militia” would not be nearly as subtle. Welcoming Big Shug and Bumpy Knuckles to the fold, the song was a lyrical blitzkrieg of tough-guy MCs throwing bars just like hands in a to-the-death rumble. Preemo’s precise scratches and stacks of chord arrangements played the wartime drums. Even from the trenches, Moment Of Truth also veered celestial. “Above The Clouds,” with Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck, celebrated thinking deeply, and musically meditating above the worldly chaos. “Work” was a record of encouragement aimed for the ambitious Everyman.“JFK 2 LAX” eerily followed Hip-Hop’s most violent 18 months with a song about holding the culture, the coasts, and the Gang Starr pair together. In their early thirties, Gang Starr stepped in with the wisdom and anchoring backbone Hip-Hop needed on Moment Of Truth. In the wake of this album, Guru’s consistency after a decade put him in the elite company of Chuck D, Erick Sermon, Rakim, and Ice Cube. Moreover, DJ Premier had brilliantly brought to his group the cutting edge audio effects that had poured the foundation for numerous illustrious Rap careers.
Album Number: 5
Released: March 31, 1998
Label: Noo Trybe/Virgin Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #6 (certified gold, May 1998)
Song Guests: Scarface, Bumpy Knuckles, Big Shug, Inspectah Deck, K-Ci & JoJo, M.O.P. (Billy Danze & Lil Fame), G-Dep, Krumbsnatcha, H-Stax, Shiggy Sha
Song Producers: (self)
So which is the better album? Make sure you vote above.
Related: Finding The GOAT: The Albums.