WU-Tang Clan."Come together and form like Voltron" How the RZA creation, influenced HIP HOP culture
Updated: Nov 17, 2019
I just purchased my first official rap album, that I wasn't allowed to have. Red Man - "Whut? the Album". Plus purchased other classic albums that displayed lyrical prowess that year like Dr. Dre "The Chronic", Pete Rock & CL Smooth - "Mecca & Da Soul Brother", Gangstarr -Daily Operation and we saw the birth of a new iggedy style called Sewage (That everyone copied after ), created by the two man group Das EFX.
In 1993. You had Tribe Called Quest - "Midnight Marauders", Snoop Dogg - "Doggy Style", Black Moon - "Enter Da Stage", LL Cool J - "14 Shots to the Dome", Guru - "Jazzmataz", Ice Cube - Lethal Injection, ONYX - Bacdafucup. Then came something you had never seen or heard before conceptually or creatively in HIP HOP as of yet. The concept of the Wu - Tang Clan.
Wu - Tang Clan video "Protect Ya Neck"
The creator & founder of the Wu - Tang Clan, Robert Fitzgerald Diggs aka RZA. Is a producer / rapper that was already in the rap game creating songs like ( I love you rakeem ) for Tommy Boy records. He has an idea to create a super group that would change the landscape of how contracts were negotiated (They entered the game with a group contract, which then led to each member receiving a separate record deal individually), Also showed how a rap group or individual can create & become a brand within HIP HOP culture. Plus the way the album was marketed and promoted was flawless, as far as how every song released and placed on Enter the Wu - Tang 36 Chambers allowed its strongest emcees (Method Man, Raekwon Da Chef, GhostFace Killah, ODB, & GZA) to shine lyrically on their own and as a group without getting into each others way.
"Protect Ya Neck" was the first single released from the clan. The video was so grimey & jaw dropping with the level of lyrical precision achieved by almost every member, minus (U-god). Was just amazing. First when you heard it on the radio it was like Yo! who is that and what is a Wu-Tang Clan? then when you saw the video, you was like, Ok... I have to support these guys. It was so ahead of it's time that the concept of having more than two people in a group spitting raw lyrics and looking like they had their own individual rapping super power, was just a Mind Blown Concept to me and to many other fans. Up until this time there were only battle crews, like the Juice Crew or BDP (Boogie Down Productions) out of New York & the gangsta rap group NWA, that were based in California. But, as far as a large group performing a song in rap. The most recent song that comes to my mind, that had this many members. Was the 1991, "Stop the Violence Movement" for the song - "Self Destruction".
Wu-Tang Clan - Method Man
Wu - Tang Clan "come together and formed like Voltron"
There is an interlude on the album that plays audio from an interview w/Method man and Raekwon, They're explaining the concept of The Wu - Tang clan and how each member represents a style and chamber that starts with Ol' Dirty Bastard and ends with the Gza as the head. When they come together, they would form like Voltron. That was just a genius concept! I've never heard anything like that in HIP HOP, prior to them. During a time in HIP HOP, when your name meant something. Conceptually, to start the clans foundation with Ol' Dirty Bastard, there is no father to his style. When you listen to him rap on 36 chambers and then on his first album, you will begin to understand why he calls himself ODB. In my Opinion. ODB represents a style that he had mastered. Every rap artist goes through it in the beginning. Figuring out how to rap, using words with melodies & various cadences, all on different BPM. When your raps have no real concepts or meaning, just putting words together. Why? because you're really just practicing and trying to figure out your flow and what your writing style should be, Until you get it down to a science. Then you will be able to go to the next level or the next chamber of your writing. Which could've been RZA randomness but unique perspective, Method Man unique voice, style & presence, or Raekwon Ice Water, language or Ghostface unique flow & pimp style, or Inspectah Deck witty flow and punchlines. When you move up the chambers of Wu - Tang, each member had mastered their own style and GZA was definitely the head lyrically, with his intellectual style.
Wu-Tang Clan - C.R.E.A.M.
Method Man & C.R.E.A.M.
These two songs Method Man & C.R.E.A.M. let you know that the Wu - Tang Clan was for real and here to stay. The lyrics in both of these songs were flawless and amazing. C.R.E.A.M. was the third single off the album and displayed raw lyrics that reflected the time period. Also once again, it showed how nice this group was lyrically once they formed like Voltron. "Method Man" self titled song was the second single off the album and introduced Method Man as the star of the group. The song plus visuals to each of these songs was the life blood of the streets at this time. Method Man video was raw and grimey just like its counterpart before it "Protect Ya Neck". When the C.R.E.A.M. video came out the quality was amazing for that time and it let you know that the Wu - Tang Clan had moved up a level in success. All the Wu members started to look fresh inside of their music videos to come. Rocking Army Fatigues, Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo wearing Tims and other popular brands of the time, before they went on and decided to create their own Wu - Wear brand & create a store.
Seeing three straight music videos that pushed the envelope and help moved the culture forward through rap using Style, Music, Fashion, Branding & Marketing as a group this size, hasn't been seen before in HIP HOP. We actually got to witness a group go from Broke to Iconic status in real time. After C.R.E.A.M. anything involving the Wu - Tang was considered gold in the fans eyes. They could do no wrong. Everything from fashion, to the lyrics and albums, we as fans consumed and purchased.
Wu-Tang Clan - Da Mystery Of Chessboxin'
Just when you thought the Wu couldn't top C.R.E.A.M. visually or lyrically. They drop "Da mystery of Chessboxin" Once again, Song was flawless lyrically and the music video visually, was on some next level shit, at the time. The concept was1 of 1. The whole clan standing on a large chess board talking about life and showing how each member protect their square, all while explaining how they move on the board was just some next level shit! Then you drop "Can it be, All so Simple". Another flawless song and great video visually. All of these songs had a message that resinated with the young black youth in the streets of America. Anyone that was or has gone through the struggle and trying to find themselves all while making a living by any means necessary to survive, will relate to C.R.E.A.M., Da Mystery of Chessboxin, and Can it be, All so Simple.
The Wu - Tang would continue to dominate HIP HOP and the charts, and continue to make history by having each member come out with their own individual album, branching off from the group and building their own brands having individual success. Method Man was first to drop his own album followed by Raekwon Purple Tape, then Ghostface, then GZA, and ODB. All had success that helped push that Wu brand even farther into the minds of its fans. Now they're recognized as one of the most Iconic brands in the world of HIP HOP and one of the most respected groups within music today.
Wu-Tang Clan - Can It Be All So Simple
Wu- tang website - https://wutangclan.com/
Article written by Jason Turner of YSYM Films
Photos captured by Jason Turner of YSYM Films
Music Videos displayed are owned and created by Wu - Tang Clan