Return Of The Wu

There hasn't been a Wu-Tang album since 2001's "Iron Flag," and group members have gotten used to the higher paydays they can command with their solo releases. Plus, the artists have been feuding in t

There hasn't been a Wu-Tang album since 2001's "Iron Flag," and group members have gotten used to the higher paydays they can command with their solo releases. Plus, the artists have been feuding in the press during the past month about everything from money to creative vision.

It all sounds like the worst possible setup for the Wu-Tang Clan's new "8 Diagrams," due this week, but such is the state of the group circa 2007. "We're not day-to-day in tune," RZA says. "But when Wu-Tang comes together, we put our lives on hold. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes it's bad. I turned down two TV shows to do this record."

"My idea with this album was to have an hour of your day be different-you go into this other world of beats, hardcore lyrics and imagery of hip-hop," RZA says. "I wanted the listener to be stimulated by the music."

For RZA, that meant balancing a heartfelt Ol' Dirty Bastard tribute ("Life Changes") with the horn-laden "Starter" and the Erykah Badu-assisted first single "The Heart Gently Weeps," which features an interpolation of the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

"We all bring a unique aspect to the group, whether we're known or not," RZA says. "Some of us have more success than others, but that's why Wu-Tang is stronger than Raekwon as himself or Ghostface as himself."