From Entertainment infographics via Ritholtz
The decline came far before these graphics indicate. Because the perspective is on hits/sales, rather than street cred, it ignores that, Wu-Tang was primarily intended as a vehicle to launch the respective members' solo projects/careers.
Having expected the group to be disbanded by the time of Wu-Tang Forever and, drunk off their solo careers, tired of taking shit from RZA and no longer compelled to do so, they approached the follow-up as if it were home repairs to be done- with MTV and the label playing the nagging wife- the morning after a bender.
Wu-Tang Forever's sales are indicative of the breadth of anticipation and not of the quality of the work. I mean, fuck, you heard the output.
The shit wasn't meant to be a brand, but Wu-Tang saturated us with all manner of cross-branded products. By the time Chappelle got around to goofing on the extent of its branding endeavors, a couple of them felt compelled- they were THAT irrelevant- to take part in their own lampooning.
At the same time, hip-hop was slipping further into its Puffy-infused malaise. The Stretch Armstrong show had seen its best days. Biggie got clipped and Nas was bored, so we were resigned to idolize Jay-Z, all the while waiting for Premier to drop mixes.
So, by the time these graphics indicate that people were, like, Aw, man, WTF?!, as if the ceiling were leaking on their $100 t-shirts, Bokolis had long-sinced signed the divorce papers. Once in a while, I bring the alimony by and coax a cookie out of the ex-ol' lady, but never when Kanye is at the house.