To fill the void in time left by the hiatus of the Wu-Tang Clan since 2007’s 8 Diagrams, U-God is just in time with The Keynote Speaker to satisfy fans itching for more. Of course, U-God has had some help in keeping the attention of these Wu-Tang loving die hards. Nearly all the members of the group have had successful solo careers continue on throughout the years virtually uninterrupted (since 1993’s debut Enter the Wu-Tang) with the late 2012/early 2013 releases being Masta Killa’s Selling My Soul, Cappadonna’s Eryth, Wynd, and Fyre, and Ghostface Killah’s Twelve Reasons to Die. This time around, U-God steps away from industry trends, keeps things Wu-Tang to the core, and most importantly, stays true to his values.
Never has the Wu, its members, or affiliates crossed over or hopped on the bandwagon of the rap games’ passing fads, but rather have derived innovation from improvements to their prior accomplishments. U-God on Keynote obeys that creed to a T. His flow is classically gritty with greater, newfound confidence and articulation, and the beats are crisp, calculated, and ominous, distinctly Wu-Tang through and through. For this keynote speech, U-God stands behind the podium, comfortable and relaxed, eloquently and steadily telling us about his lifestyle and close, personal sphere of trust.
The album opens with the soothing voice of a radio DJ for “UGOD Radio” introducing a song and transitions to the hard hitting, horn blasting title track “Keynote Speaker” where U-God gives a complete, concise briefing on his current stance in the game rapping, “I’m on deck, see I’m next to do it / My nest is blooming, my heart is fuming / What’chu expect man the God is human.” What follows is an adventure covering faith, the streets, riches, drugs, and violent encounters. Within itself, the album finds a comfort zone the artists slip into, but there is not a lack of energy anywhere to be found. GZA, Method Man, Styles P, Inspectah Deck, Elzhi, and Kool Keith come in to contribute their input and spark up the fire that much more. RZA is in nice form having produced “Room Keep Spinning,” “Get Mine,” and “Be Right There,” and the rest of the producers match the tone very well for the rest of the album.
Arguably one of the least appreciated members of founder RZA’s sick and twisted, worldly conscious, Kung-Fu inspired collective of hip hop misfit, U-God has let his relatively simple and easy going style and flow define himself and set himself apart from his colleagues. Riveting from a shock value standpoint, The Keynote Speaker throws everything out there for the listener to put together and has its moments of jumping back and forth between one liners. The album is more a montage of different subject matter than a full examination of any singular subject. Short, but lively, The Keynote Speaker will definitely appeal to loyal Wu-Tang and U-God fans alike.