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How The Wu-Tang Clan Changed the Game

If you're not a Wu-Tang fan, you need to become one! Also, tune into the Hulu dramatization of the group's ride to fame, Wu Tang: An American Saga.

From the slums of Shaolin, Wu-Tang Clan strikes again!

On February 15th, the third and final season of “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” released on Hulu. The television series was created by The RZA, the brains of the Wu-Tang Clan, and screenwriter Alex Tse. It details the start of the Wu-Tang Clan and how they ended up becoming one of the most notable groups in music history. Here’s how:

Humble Beginnings

The group was formed in 1992 when RZA put together his two cousins (Ol’ Dirty Bastard and GZA) along with five childhood friends (Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, U-God, and Masta Killa). The members were really into old Kung-Fu movies. Their name comes from a 1983 Kung-Fu film called Shaolin and Wu Tang. Their music itself was inspired by those movies as well. They’ve even used some sample sounds from the movie in some of their songs.

Originating in Staten Island (with ODB coming from Brooklyn), the group all had their fair share of street violence and drama. They also all came from poor households and have seen and been through terrible things. Putting it all aside, RZA decided to motivate the group to all rap together. He all saw their talents and created beats personalized for each of them. At first, the rest of the group was hesitant. However, once they listened to their music produced by the RZA, they knew that they were stars.

“Good Morning Vietnam!”

Wu-Tang Logo

In 1993, their single “Protect Ya Neck” gained the group a large underground following. Later, they released their debut, LEGENDARY album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). This album sold 1.5 million copies at the time of release. Their fans fell in love not only with their music, but their personalities, which overflowed in their music. With Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s hilarious commentary, Method Man’s legendary song that personifies him, and the rest of the crew rapping their hearts out and pouring their character into their lyrics, the album is nothing but an art piece.

Their raps are both complex and soul touching. The group describes their personalities in the ‘Intermission’, with Method Man and Raekwon the Chef breaking down everybody one by one by describing their stage names. This ‘Intermission’ follows the song ‘Can It Be All So Simple’, beautifully rapped by Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah. Additionally sampled by Gladys Knight’s ‘The Way We Were/Try To Remember.”

Method Man’s track, “Method Mad”, is known by it’s famous “M-E-T-H-O-D man” chant spinoff from Hall & Oat’s “Method of Modern Love”. This renowned song made Method Man the huge celebrity he is today. Once this comes on everyone’s arms are in the air and everyone’s chanting “I got myself a 40, I got myself a shorty.”

And we can’t forget about the amazing “Shame on a N***a”, where Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s scatting in the background and memorable bars make this song one that we’ll all have our arms up for. Everything about this group is intense, and this song proves it. Their unapologetic style makes them stand out like no other.

The lyrical content on this album mainly focuses on the member’s life experiences, joint with rap-trash talk. Each song will have anyone’s head bumping and foot tapping, and fans know to spit the bars wherever they are!

Where Are They Now?

Ol’ Dirty Bastard “Return to The 36 Chambers” album cover.

From this album, everybody in the group began getting offers from different record labels. RZA created a 5 year plan for the group, and wanted to make the Wu-Tang Clan not only a music group, but a brand. From solo albums to a clothing line, the group became one of the biggest in the world. As a collective, they’ve sold around 6.5 million albums in the US and around 40 million records worldwide, according to The Latch. This includes the individual members’ album sales as well.

Unfortunately, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, born Russel Tyrone Jones, passed away on November 13, 2004. His autopsy confirmed that he passed from an accidental drug overdose. The group also had many money disputes, so they decided to pursue their solo careers. After a few more hit albums, they branched out. Method Man had had six Top 10 albums and Ghostface Killah has had 14 Top 200 albums, which is the most albums on the charts of the group.

Today, RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and Cappadonna still perform and are actually going to be on tour soon! To buy tickets, click here.

What Makes Them So Important?

Ken Hively/Getty

The Wu-Tang Clan, first of all, were rebellious, daring, and revolutionary with their sound and lyrics. Ol’ Dirty Bastard said it best, “Wu-Tang is for the children”. The group’s mission, according to RZA, is

 “To open up the minds of the youth and the people and become aware of our people, our situation, our community, martial arts, knowledge of self, and all the things that we put into those songs…

It was wisdom of the universe. It was something that should inspire.”

– The RZA

The group’s music was made to expand minds. Not only did they succeed in that, but they achieved their goal of becoming a global brand. They were able to reach people from all over the world and touch them with their music.

Wu-Tang additionally changed the way hip-hop contracts were structured. The contract that the RZA made for his group provided them with the freedom to pursue record deals with other labels with still being signed to Loud/RCA.

The Wu-Tang Clan changed the game. They made history in the hip-hop/rap scene and planted many seeds for the artists today. Many rappers and hip-hop artists today still use Wu-Tang as inspiration and have even based their music solely on the group.

If you’re not a Wu-Tang fan, you need to become one! Also, tune into the Hulu dramatization of the group’s ride to fame, Wu Tang: An American Saga.

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