There are only a handful of rappers who can legitimately say they made a serious impact in the game. When we talk about rap groups, that list becomes even smaller. The Wu-Tang Clan is one of those groups. They emerged from “the forgotten borough” of Staten Island during a time of west coast dominance with a hardcore sound that blended Soul, R&B, and Kung-Fu samples. They helped turn attention back to New York and, to paraphrase Ice-T, there are nine or ten of them, all of them can rap, and they do it really well.
We can argue all day about who’s the best member. The beauty about the Wu is that each member gives you something unique and possibly everything you could want as a hip-hop fan. Whether it’s battle raps, mafioso sh*t, religious, conscious, street, or just something to get you hype, the Wu’s got it in one form or another.
While the group’s recent output sadly hasn’t been up to par, there are still plenty of joints in their group archives to digitally thumb through and enjoy. Whether you’re a novice to the Wu-mansion or a seasoned vet with your own room, here’s a Primer for you and yours as we approach the 19th anniversary of their second LP, Wu-Tang Forever this Friday.
1. “Protect Ya Neck”
If there’s any song that is quintessential Wu, it’s their very first single. With such a large crew, the best way to make sure everyone shined was to put the rhymes back-to-back with no hook or chorus to distract. They’ve used this formula for 20 years now with varying degrees of success, but it was perfected early on via “Protect Ya Neck.” This joint also established Inspectah Deck as the best lead-off man in the game.
2. “Da Mystery of Chessboxin”
Wu wear their influences on their sleeves. Two of their biggest staples, Kung-Fu flicks and chess, are thoroughly represented here. RZA’s eerie sound design offered something different as a producer and the Clan followed with a unique vibe as a group. Aside from movie samples and something that sounds right out of the orient, “Da Mystery of Chessboxin” also has U-God’s best verse…if you’re into that kind of thing.