As the Wu-Tang Clan has transitioned into elder statemen of rap where a majority fans want to hear thirty year old classics instead of anything recorded lately, there has been a renewed interest into their superhero origin story. In recent years, the incredible and unprecedented story of the nine-(sometimes ten-)man crew’s ascension from the front of the project building to the top of the hip-hop world has been told multiple times in multiple formats, including a Showtime documentary, a Hulu scripted series, and a pile of books courtesy of both journalists (Chamber Music; From the Streets of Shaolin), and some the group’s members themselves (RZA’s The Wu-Tang Manual and The Tao of Wu; U-God’s Raw: My Journey into the Wu-Tang).
The Wu-Tang Clan is more than a hip-hop group. It’s more than a mere musical collective. The Clan and its members are a movement unto themselves.
“At this point, it’s fair to say they have even transcended the rap game, claiming their place in the cultural zeitgeist.”
This originally appeared on I Hate JJ Redick on February 3, 2012
“What RZA put together let no man tear asunder.”
I would argue the Wu-Tang Clan the most influential hip-hop collective outside of possibly Run-DMC. It’s more than just music, chess, and karate flicks. It’s a way of life and almost a religion. For proof, look no further than the fact that the makeup, philosophy and history of the Wu-Tang Clan has its own manual and even its own bible.
With his sophomore disc, Ghostface Killah threw the Clan on his back and reached his apotheosis
“Walk with me like Dorothy”
It was over.
“Got me behind the pot again”
The odds were stacked against him.
It’s no secret that I’m a Wu-Tang Clan superfan.
I know obscure trivia about the group. I have their logo on my coffee mug. I own old issues of The Source and XXL with the group on the cover. I also own items like the “Protect Ya Neck” cassette single, the “C.R.E.A.M.” single on vinyl, and the actual Purple Tape (the cassette version of Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…).
One of the more obscure Wu-related items I own is a copy of
The World According to Pretty Toney, a 2007 book by Ghostface Killah with J. Brightly.
Below is a list I created in November, 2013, in honor of the 20th anniversary of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). It was published on Medium and then republished by Hip Hop Golden Age. In honor of today – November 9, 2018 – being the 25th anniversary of the release of that album, I chose to post it here. Please keep in mind that this list hasn’t been changed, amended or updated in five years. Any projects that came out since then were obviously not considered. Reading back through the list, there are minor changes I might like to make – I think Cuban Linx…Pt. II is a bit too low – but it’s been out there for a half-decade so I’ll leave the list as it is. Please tell me how wrong I got it in the comments below.
If it’s going to take years for something to happen, it better be worth the wait. With that in mind, for my first podcast appearance, I was lucky to have the opportunity to talk about my absolutely favorite album, Wu-Tang Forever.
If a (supposedly) new Wu-Tang Clan album doesn’t move the needle the way it once did, it’s largely because it’s easy to be skeptical about new material coming out of Shaolin.
“Reunited, double LP, world excited”
It wasn’t just an album release. It was an event.