El Michels Affair, Enter the 37th Chamber (Fat Beats)

NYC soul collective El Michels Affair takes a nostalgic trip back to the '90s to revisit some of the Wu-Tang's most classic singles.
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Soul collective salutes the Wu
On Enter the 37th Chamber, NYC soul collective El Michels Affair takes a nostalgic trip back to the ‘90s to revisit some of the Wu-Tang''s most classic singles. If reinterpreting defining tracks like “C.R.E.A.M.” with live instrumentals sounds like a bad idea, you can rest assured that this group led by saxophonist/organist Leon Michels largely does the Wu justice.

What''s notable about this project is that El Michels Affair doesn''t always do straight-on soul takes on Wu-Tang tracks. While “Mystery of Chessboxin''” very much resembles the Kung-Fu-flick-inspired original, many others offer more of an alternative look back. This is particularly true with “Can It All Be So Simple.” Originally, the aforementioned single was a dark, bass-driven song about missing childhood, but El Michels Affair''s version is lighter, relying on chill organs and percussion, with bursts of dusty horn stabs. Not-so-obvious interpretations like that prevent the album from being just a standard cover project. Even though some Wu-Tang fans will likely prefer to just pop on the originals, there''s a lot to dig about both the recognizable and subtle takes that El Michels Affair bring to the table. [3.5 out of 5 stars]