Wu-Tang Clan


Mai 20 2006, 3h08

Sit down and get comfortable, this is gonna be a long one.

The Wu-Tang Clan consists of GZA, RZA, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and Masta Killa. My first exposure to the Wu-Tang Clan was in the winter of '03 or the spring of '04, when my friend Max would constantly listen to Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers while driving around town to skate spots. I enjoyed it, even though I didn't really like rap at the time. Everything about this album is just so fresh. Rza doctored up some awesome beats for this CD. He definitely established himself as a solid producer through this and the subsequent Wu solo productions, all through beats that are simplistic without being too bland. The rhymes are raw and so original. Each artist contributes vitally to the Clan, and in this CD espeically, none of the artists stand out as being any more talented than others. Of noteworthy mention are Gza's metaphors in this CD, which are outrageously smart and still raw. "My clan is thick like plaster/Bust ya, slash ya/Slit a nigga back like a Dutch Master Killer." It doesn't get much more raw than that. The rhymes are so hard, in fact, that many people might say that some of the members of Wu-Tang Clan spit better shit on this CD than any subsequent solo album. At first, it's a little hard to get through all of the deep metaphorical contexts, but once you start to understand the samurai and Shaolin metaphors and once you start to learn the numerous names each individual member has, you begin to appreciate the rhymes much more.

I never really got addicted to the Wu-Tang Clan, though, and I really blame that on my lack of open-mindedness to rap music and other types of music in general. Once I did open my mind, however, I was opened up to the wonders of Wu-Tang through No Said Date. His smooth and gritty style was an instant hit for me. The beats are absolutely off the chain. For the most part, they are produced by Rza, but the best beats on the CD are produced by Tru Master and Mathematics. Some of the favorites include Silverbacks and D.T.D. Lyrically, secret rivals is on a whole other level. "So patient, they sat there in the aisles and waited/For the testimony, hungry, for a statement from the one and only/Thirsty for the ceremony at hand, true Wu die hard fans/Now look how we rock, make a freestyle drop, old school like the wop" is definitely one of the best lines on the CD.

My next CD of interest in the Wu-Tang collection was Supreme Clientele. Here, Rza's beats may be considered the weakest on the album. Still, they remain impressive and remarkably catchy, with production on Buck 50. Catchy beats are produced by a lot of Wu affiliates. In fact, probably the hardest banger on the CD is Wu Banga 101, produced by Mathematics. A nearly complete Wu-Tang collaboration makes this an instant classic. Ghost shows he knows how to talk about real-life issues, talking about the pastorial scandals of late '00. "Bottles goin' off in the church, we broke the wine/slapped the pastor, didn't know Pop had asthma/He pulled out his blue bible, change fell out his coat/Three condoms, two dice, one bag of dope/Oooh! Rev. ain't right, his church ain't right." Lyrically, this CD is pretty strong. I still don't think it compares to some of the verses he spit in 36 Chambers, but it is definitely raw and hard shit, some of it’s really impressive. He talks a lot about hood life, and of course this was before he had mainstreamed to the point he has reached today. “I remember days when we just fucked bitches/Bought a lot of clothes and just played the ave./Now we rap niggas with a lot of wardrobes/And if we want a nigga dead we pay the cash/I ain't tryin to waste my career on y'all/Even scuffle with y'all, waste gear on y'all/But if I gotta go out, you know I'ma show out/You gon' fuck around and get your whole back blown out” His flow is smooth and his word choice always works, it’s intelligent, and it’s still true. Hassan produces Apollo Kids, another banger of a beat, probably the catchiest on the whole CD. Ghost’s rhymes on this track are amazing but still go unnoticed due to the strength and melodic catchiness of the beat. ” Since the face been revealed, game got real/Radio been gassin niggaz, my imposters scream they ill/I'm the inventor, '86 rhymin at the center/Debut '93 LP told you to Enter.”. He’s talking about how everything’s gotten real and raw since the Wu-Tang Clan came out swinging with Enter the 36 Chambers, and how people are trying too hard to be just like him and the Wu, a statement which is true of much of the rap released after ’93, most of which was heavily influenced by Wu.

Over the winter, I listened to Liquid Swords quite excessively, almost religiously, while driving from one place to another (I swear the rhymes are permanently engrained in my mind). Rza fully and exceptionally produced it, with one hard beat after another, all of which accompany each track nicely. Only recently, I learned that Rza made these beats to be listened to in the winter. This is especially notable with the darkness and whirring of the beats, much of which have a low whistling to resemble the cold winds of an East Coast winter. This influenced me to listen to this CD throughout much of the winter. The title track, Liquid Swords, opens up with a rather creepy little girl telling a story of her violent and deadly father, “the greatest samurai in the empire.” Then, he comes out swinging. Hard. Like, Mike Tyson hard. Lyrically, Gza is arguably on a different plane of all the other Wu-Tang members, having only broken out into that level after the release of 36 Chambers. His similes and metaphors are so smart, and just like always, they stay raw and true without sounding like an over-intellectual stuck-up bastard using as many big words as possible to sound like they just graduated Harvard. ”I be the body dropper, the heartbeat stopper/Child educator, plus head amputator/Cause niggaz styles are old like Mark 5 sneakers/Lyrics are weak, like clock radio speakers.” This isn’t where the originality ends, though. Throughout the CD, Gza continues to utilize the tool which made his lyrics such a hit and a success on the 36 Chambers LP. In Duel of the Iron Mics, he is able to elaborate on his similes, using multiple examples to prove how worthless everyone else is in comparison to him. “Shit is outdated, just like neckloads of Sterlings/Suede-fronts, bell-bottoms, and tri-colored Shearlings.” This is probably my favorite song on the CD, as a result of the hard beat produced by Rza. It’s so tranquil and cold, and the beat pounds your bass. Here’s a perfect example of yet another Wu-Tang classic.

More recently, with the dawn of summer, I’ve been listening to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Opposing Gza’s wintry mix, Raekwon gets a more bright and sunny feel. Once again, Rza is behind the decks with the beat production 100% of the way, and once again doesn’t fail to deliver one bangin’ beat after another, following his master formula: minimalism without being too scarce. One of the catchiest and most memorable beats on the CD is from Incarcerated Scarfaces, with the symbol crash and rhythmic tapping with the simplified chords in the background compliment the Chef’s flow quite neatly. “Chef'll shine like marble, rhyme remarkable/Real niggaz raise up, spend your money, argue/But this time is for the uninvited/Go head and rhyme to it, big nigga mics is gettin fired/Morphine chicks be burnin like chlorine/Niggaz recognize from here to Baltimore to Fort Greene/But hold up, Moet be tastin like throw-up/My mob roll up, dripped to death whips rolled up/Ya never had no wins, slidin in these dens wit Timbs/Wit Mac-10's and broke friends/Ya got guns, got guns too, what up son?/Do you wanna battle for cash and see who Sun too?” The rhyme here is a demonstration of how Raekwon’s rhymes can intertwine themselves through the line, not just at the end. He can spit a rhyme anywhere and you may not even notice it; he’s that fast, that smart. If you get a chance, take a look at the music video for this Wu Banger. Ice Cream is an excellent metaphor for good-looking girls. The metaphor is given away at the end when Method Man talks about each of the different “flavors” of ice cream. The beat is so fresh and slow on this, but still it’s a catchy and simplistic beat with enough pizzazz to keep you listening. A few of my other favorites on this CD are Guillotine (Swordz), as well as Knuckleheadz. The beats on both are hard and raw, more advanced representations of what Rza can do in the lab. Both are lyrically powerful with collaboration efforts coming from Ghostface, U-God, Inspectah Deck, and others. Check out Inspectah Deck’s verse in Guillotine. Now that’s talent.

Minus a handful of other solo efforts that were successful and/or impressive, it is believed that Wu-Tang’s streak of dominance stopped with the release of Wu-Tang Forever, a double disc LP that rocked the rap/hip-hop industry with each individual member having honed their style and lyrical abilities, all nine bringing their A-game to the reunion. The beats are all dope, all across the map, as is to be expected from anything produced by Rza (and as I’m sure you’ve learned from reading). He seems to steer away from the success of the simplistic beats in favor of something a bit more flavorful, with a bit more punch and melody. Still, he doesn’t fail to produce Wu-Bangers all across the board here. Reunited opens up with strong verses from all the guys who got solo releases between 36 Chambers and Forever, utilizing a very catchy beat to make this probably the most easily recognizable and remembered track on the double disc. Gza’s verse is definitely something worthy of much respect. “Reunited, double LP, we're all excited/Struck a match to the underground, industry ignited/from metaphorical parables to fertilize the Earth/Wicked niggaz come, try to burglarize the turf/Scattin off soft-ass beats them niggaz rap happily/Tragically, that style, deter-iate, rapidly/Uncompleted missions, throwin your best known compositions/You couldn't add it up, if you mastered addition.” What he’s spitting has such meaning, even though it may not seem that way. Their CD dropped, and literally set the rap/hip-hop industry on fire. After that, everyone was trying to bite their style, riding the coattails of the Wu, but all failed in the wake of falling short of their expertise and level of ability, and that all of their best stuff would never measure up. The deeper meanings and similes are much easier to interpret in this CD than they are in 36 Chambers, probably as a result of each member having their time to invent their own style and personality. For Heaven’s Sake follows up by exposing the guys who never got their chance to release a solo album. These guys hit it hard on this album, with a hard beat. Throughout the double disc, Inspectah Deck really drops the hard lyrics. They’re flawless throughout, consistently memorable, and groundbreaking for their time. “Yo, aiyyo my rap style swing like Willie Mays/My eyes Purple Haze, my solar razor burn through shades/My grenades raid the airwaves, catch this rap page/I glide like, hovercrafts on the Everglades/Boom master, with the faster blade, track slasher/Manufacture poems to microphones, bones fracture/Limited edition composition spark friction/non-fiction, the calm bomb keep your arm distant.” What sticks the most about Forever is the catchiness of each tune, and how each one is memorable in it’s own way. As High As Wu-Tang Get, for instance, is quite memorable for the simplistic beat (a refreshing flashback to some of the beats heard in 36 Chambers), and also as a result of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s crazy voice throwing the hook in the mix. Two more bangers on disc one worth checking out are Older Gods and A Better Tomorrow. In addition to the consistent beats, the rhymes in both songs are original and raw, real to the streets (especially in the latter). Moving on to disc two, the intro properly prepares you for Triumph, Rza clearly stating “Prepare for the triumph.” Prepare indeed, you need to for the bomb of a verse that Inspectah drops in the first verse of the song. “I bomb atomically, Socrates' philosophies/and hypothesis can't define how I be droppin these/mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery/Flee with the lottery, possibly they spotted me/Battle-scarred shogun, explosion when my pen hits/tremendous, ultra-violet shine blind forensics/I inspect you, through the future see millennium/Killa B's sold fifty gold sixty platinum/Shacklin the masses with drastic rap tactics/Graphic displays melt the steel like blacksmiths/Black Wu jackets queen B's ease the guns in/Rumble with patrolmen, tear gas laced the function/Heads by the score take flight incite a war/Chicks hit the floor, diehard fans demand more/Behold the bold soldier, control the globe slowly/Proceeds to blow swingin swords like Shinobi/Stomp grounds and pound footprints in solid rock/Wu got it locked, performin live on your hottest block.” In many opinions, this is the best verse spit by any Wu member in their history. I probably have to agree. The metaphors and messages and deeper meanings are all over the place, and as long as you can pick them out, this verse should probably hit you harder than a sack of bricks.

It’s hard to continue discussion of Wu-Tang after mentioning the verse that ends all verses, so I’ll stop here, and let you delve into the Wu-Tang culture. I’d suggest everyone interested in the Wu-Tang Clan start off by listening to 36 Chambers, then collecting albums mentioned here, in addition to Tical and Ironman, all of which I may write on if I ever feel like adding to this already massive journal entry. :)



  • TksB

    respect, i heard that they're releasing a new album this summer, anyone who can confirm this rumour?

    Mai 20 2006, 14h41
  • assmoney

    Great post, I read the whole thing :)

    Jun 20 2006, 23h43
  • Peedu

    nice post

    Jun 25 2006, 8h13
  • -Mak-

    Nice journal. Just one side point it's a boy not a girl in the samples on Liquid Swords. They are sampled from the film Shogun Assassin, which is parts of the Babycart series edited into one film.

    Ago 29 2006, 16h46
  • TonzaAkaNinja

    Good read.. Wu Tang is hot!

    Dez 24 2006, 21h48
  • mikeroach113

    Did you ever see the Daytona 500 music video? [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRbKdx7TMio&eurl=[/youtube]

    Jan 11 2007, 18h33
  • mikeroach113


    Jan 11 2007, 18h33
  • progjunky

    great blog. only one thing: you keep using the word simplistic to describe the rza's beats. this is the definition of simplistic: The tendency to oversimplify an issue or a problem by ignoring complexities or complications. i think you mean simple (not elaborate or artificial; plain; easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.) there's a subtle but significant difference between the two. thanks for this, it inspired me to listen to more wu-tang!

    Abr 21 2008, 2h24
  • Zypraxa

    First verse of Triumph best Wu verse ever? Fuck I'm sick of reading that. It's nowhere near their best group song either. Beat is lame and pretentious, most of the verses are pretty weak. Inspectah Deck has WAY better verses on Hellz Wind Staff, Visionz, For Heavens Sake and Heaterz.

    Nov 1 2010, 8h33
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