Music

Wu-Tang Clan and their Road to Fame

Considered the best group in hip-hop by many critics and fans alike, Wu Tang Clan have made a name for themselves and are highly respected by many fellow hip-hop artists as well as influencing many. Known as “Shaolin” by the members, the public housing units in Staten Island is where the story of Wu Tang begins. The two founders RZA and GZA began free-styling with others in the streets of New York throughout the 80’s when RZA met future Wu Tang members ODB, Method Man, Ghostface, Raekwon, and U-God in his middle school years. All the members of Wu Tang were notorious for being skilled in the street life of New York, including RZA who funded much of his music equipment by means of selling drugs. The name “Wu Tang Clan” started to spread quickly in the underground after the release of their first single “Protect Ya Neck”.

When it came to a record label, the Wu Tang had very specific terms that allowed all of the members to release collaboration albums as a unit, as well as the ability for each member to release solo albums. Eventually, Load Records agreed on these terms and their debut album “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” was released in 1993. A strong debut for the Clan, 36 Chambers is highly regarded as one of the best hip-hop albums and shot the Clan straight into the limelight of the rap and hip-hop culture. One by one, the Clan began to release their solo projects roughly a year after the release of 36 Chambers starting with RZA’s group “Gravediggaz”; though not technically a solo album, the horror-core album “6 Feet Deep” by Gravediggaz is the first release by a Wu Tang Clan member after 36 Chambers.

Probably the most known member of the Clan, in terms of mainstream pop culture, Method Man was the first released his debut album “Tical” in 1994. Proving that the Clan wasn’t a one hit wonder, Tical gained positive reviews as well as winning a Grammy for the single “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By”. Next came ODB’s “Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version” in 1995, followed by Raekwon’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…”, GZA’s “Liquid Swords”, and finally in 1996 Ghostface Killah’s “Ironman”.

Throughout it all, RZA continued producing all of his band mates albums and continued to grow and establish an even stronger and more distinct sound; something the Clan is highly praised for having. In 1997, the Clan came together again to release their sophomore album “Wu-Tang Forever”, debuting at number one. As their popularity continued to grow, the Clan’s notorious “bad boy” mannerisms continued to cause troubles for them throughout it all, including Ghostface serving time in prison and the many run-ins with the law ODB had.

The Clan’s catalog just kept on grown from that point on as many of the members showed interest in other medias such as television and film, as well a clothing design and even the video game platform; being featured in a number of games and having their own fighting game. Through easier time and even tough times, like the death of original member ODB in 2004; the Wu Tang Clan have proven that they are “major players” so to speak, and a force to be reckoned with; either individually or in a group, it’s safe to say that the Wu Tang Clan will continue to be considered one of the best hip hop groups long after their time, and even ours.