I snoozed on this one for far too long but in its new paperback edition, Will Ashon’s deep dive into Wu-Tang Clan’s 1993 hip-hop opus Enter the Wu-Tang totally floored me. Far from being another dreary Classic Album nostalgia trip, Chamber Music reconfigures the story of nine MCs from New York City as a prism through which to consider the social and cultural history of the city and even the nation as a whole. The story of Wu, Ashon argues, *is* the story of the US, and it’s electrifying.
While Ashon connects occasionally with the work of cultural theorists like Kodwo Eshun, Fred Moten, and Mark Fisher, he ultimately forges his own analytical space here, delivering deft, complex insights into race, class, drugs, and kung fu cinema with a lightness and immediacy that demands your complete surrender.
Nine thumbs up.