“‘Cause I bake the cake / then take the cake and eat it too with my crew while we head state to state.”
“We not that legit though, run for the gusto / Peep Marcel and Brown comin’ around dippin’ the logo.”
“Sunshine plays a major part in the daytime / Peace to mankind, Ghostface carry a black 9.”
“The GZA, one who just represent the Wu-Tang clique / With the game and soul of an old school flick.”
“Armed and geared cause I just broke out the prison / Charged by the system for murdering the rhythm.”
“You scream, as it enters your bloodstream / Erupts your brain from the pain these thoughts contain.”
“Hey, you, get off my cloud / You don’t know me and you don’t know my style.”
“I got the asiatic flow mixed with disco / roll up on the scene like the count of Monte Crisco.”
“Call me the rap assassinator / Rhymes rugged and built like Schwarzenegger.”
“Feeling mad hostile, wearing Aéropostale / Flowing like Christ when I speaks the gospel.”
“I'm direct, golden best, golden chest is blessed / Scarce chapter, snatch a batch of winterfresh.”
“Shacklin’ the masses with drastic rap tactics / graphic displays melt the steel like blacksmiths.”
“That my wordplay run the 400 meter relay / It's on once I grab the baton from the DJ.”
“We could trade places, get lifted in the staircases / Word up, peace incarcerated scarfaces.”
Emerging in 1993, when Dr. Dre’s G-funk had overtaken the hip-hop world, the Staten Island, NY-based Wu-Tang Clan proved to be the most revolutionary rap group of the mid-‘90s – and only partially because of their music. Turning the standard concept of a hip-hop crew inside out, the Wu-Tang Clan were assembled as a loose congregation of nine MCs, almost as a support group.
Instead of releasing one album after another, the Clan was designed to overtake the record industry in as profitable a fashion as possible – the idea was to establish the Wu-Tang as a force with their debut album and then spin off into as many side projects as possible. In the process, the members would all become individual stars as well as receive individual royalty checks.
All of the various Wu-Tang solo projects elaborated on the theme the group laid out on its 1993 debut, the spare, menacing Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Taking their group name from an powerful, mythical kung fu sword wielded by an invincible congregation of warriors, the crew is a loose collective of nine MCs.
All nine members work under a number of pseudonyms, but they are best known as RZA (formerly Prince Rakeem; aka RZArecta, Chief Abbot, and Bobby Steels; born Robert Diggs), GZA (aka the Genius, Justice, and Maxi Million; born Gary Grice), Ol’ Dirty Bastard (aka Unique Ason, Joe Bannanas, Dirt McGirt, Dirt Dog, and Osirus; born Russell Jones), Method Man (aka Johnny Blaze, Ticallion Stallion, Shakwon, Methical, and MZA; born Clifford Smith), Raekwon the Chef (aka Shallah Raekwon and Lou Diamonds; born Corey Woods), Ghostface Killah (aka Tony Starks and Sun God; born Dennis Coles), U-God (aka Golden Arms, Lucky Hands, Baby U, and 4-Bar Killer; born Lamont Hawkins), Inspectah Deck (aka Rebel INS and Rollie Fingers; born Jason Hunter), and Masta Killa (aka Noodles; born Elgin Turner).
Although RZA wasn't one of the two founding members –– GZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard were the first –– the vision of the Wu-Tang Clan is undoubtedly due to his musical skills. Under his direction, the group –– through its own efforts and the solo projects, all of which he produced or co-produced –– created a hazy, surreal, and menacing soundscape out of hardcore beats, eerie piano riffs, and minimal samples.
Over these surrealistic backing tracks, the MCs rapped hard, updating the old-school attack with vicious violence, martial arts imagery, and a welcome warped humor. By 1995, the sound was one of the most instantly recognizable in hip-hop.
It wasn't always that way. Like most rappers, they began their careers trying to get ahead whatever way they could. For RZA, that meant releasing a silly single, “Ooh, I Love You Rakeem,” on Tommy Boy Records in 1991. On the advice of his label and producers, he cut the humorous lover-man single, which went absolutely nowhere. Neither did the follow-up single, “My Deadly Venom.”
The experience strengthened his resolve to subvert and attack record industry conventions. He found partners in GZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. GZA had also released a record in 1991, the full-length Words from the Genius on Cold Chillin’, which was preceded by the single “Come Do Me.” Both records were unsuccessful. After the failure of his album, GZA teamed with an old friend, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, to form the crew that would evolve into the Wu-Tang Clan within a year.
RZA quickly became part of the crew, as did several other local MCs, including Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, U-God, Inspectah Deck, and Masta Killa. The nine rappers made a pact to a form an artistic and financial community –– the Wu-Tang Clan wouldn't merely be a group, it would be its own industry. In order to do this, they decided to establish themselves through a group effort and then begin to spread the word through solo projects, picking up additional collaborators along the way and, in the process, becoming stronger and more influential.
The first Wu-Tang Clan single, the hard-hitting “Protect Ya Neck,” appeared on their own independent label and became an underground hit. Soon, record labels were offering them lucrative contracts. The group held out until it landed a deal that would allow each member to record solo albums for whatever label he chose –– in essence, each rapper was a free agent. Loud/RCA agreed to the deal, and the band's debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), appeared in November 1993.
Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful; although its financial success wasn't immediate, it was the result of a slow build. “C.R.E.A.M.,” released in early 1994, was the single that put them over the top and won them a devoted following.
The group wasted no time in pursuing other projects, as a total of five of the members –– GZA, RZA, Raekwon, Method Man, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard –– landed solo contracts as a result of the success of “C.R.E.A.M.” RZA was the first to reenter the studio, this time as a member of the Gravediggaz, a group he founded; in addition to RZA, who was rechristened RZArecta, the group included De La Soul producer Prince Paul, Stetsasonic's Frukwan, and Brothers Grimm's Too Poetic.
The Gravediggaz's album 6 Feet Deep appeared in August 1994; it eventually would go gold. Labeled “horrorcore” by the group, it was an ultra-violent but comical tour de force that demonstrated RZA's production prowess. Shortly after its release, Raekwon released his first single, “Heaven and Hell,” on the Fresh soundtrack; the song was produced by RZA and featured Ghostface Killah.
The first Wu-Tang member to become a major solo star was Method Man. In November 1994, he released Tical, the first official Wu-Tang solo album. Again, RZA produced the album, creating a dense, dirty sonic collage. Tical became a big hit in early 1995, as did Meth's duet with Mary J. Blige, “I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By.” Ol’ Dirty Bastard followed Method Man's breakthrough success with Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, which appeared in March 1995 on Elektra Records.
Thanks to the hits “Brooklyn Zoo” and “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” the record became a gold success. Out of all the solo albums, it was the one that sounded the most like Enter the Wu-Tang, although it did have a more pronounced comic bent, due to Ol’ Dirty's maniacal vocals. Tales From the Hood, a movie soundtrack featuring Inspectah Deck's first solo track, appeared in May.
Later in 1995, the two most critically acclaimed Wu-Tang records appeared: Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… and GZA's Liquid Swords. Raekwon released his album on Loud/RCA in August 1995; the record featured extensive contributions –– a total of 12 songs –– from Ghostface Killah, his greatest exposure yet. GZA's solo album was released by Geffen Records in November 1995.
In February 1996, Ghostface Killah's first solo track, “Winter Warz,” appeared on the Don't Be a Menace to South Central While You're Drinking Your Juice in the Hood soundtrack. Later that October, he released his own solo debut, the critically acclaimed, ‘70s soul-flavored Ironman; the record was the first released on RZA's new Epic subsidiary, Razor Sharp Records.
The Wu-Tang Clan finally reconvened and returned with their second album, the Grammy-nominated multiplatinum double album Wu-Tang Forever, in June of 1997. Hugely anticipated, the album entered the charts at number one on the Billboard Charts –– selling over 600,000 copies in its first week alone –– and quickly spawned the hit single “Triumph.” This event was featured in a CNN roundup for the extraordinary sales the group achieved without a mainstream sound or commercial appeal.
There were several contributions from guest associate Cappadonna (born Darryl Hill ” fellow rapper and childhood friend), who'd appeared on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… and Ironman, and would later become the tenth member of the Wu-Tang Clan. The group toured extensively in support of the album, getting into a few minor scuffles with the law along the way.
In the meantime, the next phase of the Wu-Tang plan started to take shape: unearthing new associates and spinning the resulting stable of talent into a brand-name franchise.
However, the real year for Wu-related side projects proved to be 1998. In March, Cappadonna released his solo debut, The Pillage, on Columbia. The same month, Killah Priest –– not an official part of the Clan, but a frequent guest and a member of another protégé group, the Sunz of Man –– made his solo debut on Geffen Records with Heavy Mental, an acclaimed album filled with spiritual imagery that established him as one of the more distinctive solo artists in the Wu-Tang orbit.
In July the Sunz of Man released their own debut album, The Last Shall Be First, on Red Ant Entertainment, and yet another group of up-and-comers dubbed the Wu-Tang Killa Bees released their first album, The Swarm, Vol. 1, on Priority, featuring a number of guest appearances by Wu members and associates. In August, Killarmy issued their second album, Dirty Weaponry.
Also in 1998, Ol’ Dirty Bastard began a long and bizarre saga of erratic behavior and run-ins with police that found him making headlines with alarming (and ridiculous) regularity. In February he interrupted Shawn Colvin's acceptance speech at the Grammy Awards to protest the Clan's loss in the Best Rap Album category; shortly thereafter, he announced he was changing his name to Big Baby Jesus, an idea that never picked up steam.
This was only the beginning –– over the next year and a half, ODB would be arrested for a litany of offenses that included assault, shoplifting, making terrorist threats, wearing body armor after being convicted of a felony, possessing cocaine, and missing countless court dates. Plus, in early 1999, the whole Clan fell under suspicion of masterminding a gun-running operation between Staten Island and Steubenville, Ohio –– charges that were never proven to have any validity.
In the midst of this legal sideshow, the Clan kicked off a second round of solo projects in late 1998. This time around, RZA curtailed his activities somewhat, making appearances but often leaving the majority of the production duties to his protégés. Still, he released his own solo debut, the soundtrack-styled RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo, in November 1998 on V2; the same month, Method Man's second album, Tical 2000: Judgement Day, debuted at number two on the charts.
June 1999 saw the release of an excellent singles compilation, RZA Hits, which covered the first Wu-Tang album and the first round of solo albums (1994-1995); the very next week, GZA's second album, Beneath the Surface, was released.
September brought plenty of new Wu product: Ol’ Dirty Bastard's N*gga Please, released while the rapper was in rehab; Method Man's acclaimed duo album with Redman, Blackout!; and the first-ever solo album by Inspectah Deck, Uncontrolled Substance, which appeared on Relativity. Another Wu member made his solo debut in October, when U-God issued Golden Arms Redemption on Priority; Raekwon returned the following month with Immobilarity. Finally, Ghostface Killah issued his well-received sophomore set, Supreme Clientele, in January 2000.
However, this second round of Wu-Tang solo albums didn't attract as much attention, either critically or commercially. True, Method Man remained a popular solo star (and, to a lesser degree, so did ODB), and reviews were highly positive for Ghostface Killah (and, to a lesser degree, GZA).
But the Wu franchise was suffering from inconsistency, overexposure (they'd spawned a clothing line, a video game, a comic book, and more), and a flood of musical product that even diehards found difficult to keep up with. Their once-distinctive sound was becoming commonplace and diluted, not just through the collective's own releases but also RZA's many imitators; plus, by this time, Timbaland had taken over the mantle of hip-hop's most cutting-edge producer.
Indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch commissioned RZA to compose a soundtrack for his acclaimed Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, the results of which were unveiled in early 2000. Other than that, the Clan reconvened for a new album and were mostly quiet during much of 2000 –– aside from Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who unfortunately continued to spiral out of control.
He spent some time in a California jail for violating the terms of his probation, but appeared to be on the right track when suddenly, in October –– with just two months of rehab to go –– he escaped the California facility and spent a month on the run from the law.
Fans were shocked when ODB turned up on-stage at the New York record-release party for the Clan's new album, The W, which was released with considerably less fanfare in November 2000. A leaner, more focused collection, The W featured only one track from ODB (“Conditioner” which featured Snoop Dogg; ODB's vocals were recorded via the telephones used for inmates to talk with visitors, while in prison) and pictured Cappadonna as a full-fledged member of the group (though he remained unnamed on their official contract with Loud).
ODB managed to exit the club after his surprise performance but was soon captured by police in Philadelphia and extradited to New York to face charges of cocaine possession. In April 2001, he cut a deal with prosecutors that resulted in a sentence of two to four years in state prison, bringing his outlaw saga to a sad end. In August 2001, RZA issued his second Bobby Digital album, Digital Bullet; November brought solo albums from Ghostface Killah (Bulletproof Wallets) and Cappadonna (The Yin and the Yang).
This time, though, there was no full round of solo projects in between Wu albums; the full group (minus ODB) assembled for its fourth album, Iron Flag, which was released in December 2001, just one year after its predecessor. It was also an album which made extensive use of outside producers and guests. Its crossover vibe and features, including Ron Isley, Flavor Flav, and prominent producers Trackmasters, marked it as a lighter fare; while critically praised, it gained a less than stellar reputation with fans.
Despite a lot of activity for the various solo projects, Wu-Tang released only a live album, 2004's Disciples of the 36 Chambers: Chapter 1, during the subsequent five years. That document was one of the last places to hear Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who died of a heart attack in November 2004.
In early 2007, in anticipation for the Clan's upcoming album, 8 Diagrams (on Steve Rifkind's SRC Records, whose now-defunct Loud Records released the group's four previous albums), Nature Sounds issued the Mathematics-compiled Unreleased, a collection of new remixes and hard-to-find, previously unreleased songs from the group and some of its friends. It wasn't until the end of the year, however –– after a couple of delays and some criticism from Raekwon and Ghostface directed at RZA regarding the overall sound of the record –– that 8 Diagrams came out.
Solo albums from most members would follow, but the Clan itself would remain dormant until 2011, when the Wu-related compilation Legendary Weapons landed with some new tracks from the full group. That year, it was also announced that the Clan were working on a new studio album that would be released in 2013 to celebrate their 20th anniversary.
That year came and went, however, and the album failed to materialize, with production stymied by a further public beef between Raekwon and RZA over the new album's stylistic direction. Eventually they reconciled, and in 2014 the album was finally finished.
Entitled A Better Tomorrow, it was released in December through Warner Bros. That year the Clan also made history with the announcement that they had recorded a secret album called Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, of which only one copy would be pressed and sold as a unique artwork, in a custom-made hand-carved nickel silver box, to the highest bidder. As of November 2014, it remained unsold, though RZA claimed to have received a bid of $5M.
Cappadonna (born September 18, 1969), had known the Wu-Tang Clan members since grade school in Staten Island, and he had even decided at the age of 15 that he could write and perform lyrics.
Cappadonna's solo debut, The Pillage, finally appeared in March 1998. As the sixth Wu solo project, the album was an instant success upon its release, debuting at number three on the charts.
Remaining active in the following years releasing mixtapes, doing tours and joining Ghostface Killah's Theodore Unit, along with Wu's fifth studio album 8 Diagrams. Cappa blessed the opening cut with an extraordinary verse, showing up on two other songs.
Cappa inked a deal with Chambermusik Records/Koch in 2008 with The Cappatalize Project and then with the release of Slang Prostitution in 2009. Known for his colorful wardrobe, he frequently refers to fashion designers and his large collection of boutique clothing in his raps.
In the 2010 documentary Wu-Tang Saga, Cappadonna stated that his name is an acronym: “Consider All Poor People Acceptable Don't Oppress Nor Neglect Anyone.”
His 2013 effort Eyrth, Wynd & Fyre/Love Anger & Emotion was a double-disc effort on RBC with the second disc introducing his protégés, rappers Lounge Mode and Sav Killz. Cappadonna is finally back!
Divine can't define my style is so deep / like p*ssy, my low cut fade stay bushy / like a porcupine, I part backs like a spine, / gut you like a blunt and reconstruct your design…
A quick check of his resumé makes it clear that Ghostface Killah's (born May 9, 1970) music always makes a splash. As one of the original members of the seminal ‘90s rap crew the Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah (aka Tony Starks) made an impact before he released his debut album, Ironman. Like all members of the Wu-Tang Clan, the rapper used the group as a launching pad for a solo career, which was assisted greatly by other members of the Clan, particularly producer RZA.
Ghostface Killah had rapped on Wu-Tang's 1993 debut, Enter the Wu-Tang, but he didn't distinguish himself until 1995, when he was showcased on fellow Wu member Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Ghostface received good reviews for his appearance on the record, and his contribution to the soundtracks for Sunset Park and Don't Be a Menace to South Central While You're Drinking Your Juice in the Hood were also well-received.
All of these guest appearances and soundtrack contributions set the stage for Ghostface Killah's solo debut, Ironman, in late 1996. Like all Wu-Tang projects, it was produced by RZA and was quite successful in the large hip-hop/rap underground, debuting at number two on the pop charts upon its release. Ironman was also the first album to be released on Razor Sharp Records, RZA's record label on Epic Records.
Work with the Wu-Tang and their various members kept Ghostface Killah busy until solo singles started appearing at the end of 1999, followed by his sophomore full-length, Supreme Clientele, in early 2000. Supreme Clientele was a success, but it was followed a year later by Bulletproof Wallets, an album that didn't sell well and had fans declaring the Ironman had gone soft.
Once again it was back to the Wu for a couple years before the rapper would be appearing solo again. Epic issued the compilation Shaolin's Finest in April of 2003, and by the end of the year two new Ghostface tracks had appeared on mixtapes: the chaotic “Run” with Jadakiss and the more commercial “Tush” with Missy Elliott raised the anticipation for the rapper's first album for Def Jam and his first under the simpler moniker Ghostface.
Wu-Tang's Iron Man sums up his move to Def Jam succinctly: “Same music, different label.” For Tony Starks's legions of fans, those four words should bring dope music to their ears-literally.
The Pretty Toney Album hit the streets in April of 2004. The Top Ten hit Fishscale, along with More Fish, followed in 2006, but not before 718 (after the Staten Island area code) –– an album with a group of his protégés, Theodore Unit. In November 2005, Ghostface and Theodore Unit's breakout star Trife Da God released a joint project, Put It On The Line.
Always prolific, the rapper put out The Big Doe Rehab –– whose release date had originally coincided with Wu-Tang's long-awaited fifth full-length, 8 Diagrams, which RZA agreed to push back a week so as to not coincide with Ghost's effort –– in early December 2007.
Influenced by R&B and focused on the ladies, his 2009 album, Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City, was a significant departure. The more traditional yet triumphant effort, Apollo Kids, landed in 2010 with special guests Redman, Busta Rhymes, and the Game. Ghostface also collaborated with both Method Man and Raekwon for a joint album entitled Wu-Massacre in 2010.
Ghostface also released a collaborative album with D-Block member Sheek Louch called Wu Block (2012). Another significant departure arrived in early 2013 with the release of Twelve Reasons to Die, a collaborative effort with film composer Adrian Younge.
Inspired by the Italian murder mystery/slasher film genre known as giallo, it was a concept album based around Ghost's Tony Starks alter ego. Starks appeared once again on the following year's 36 Seasons, a return to a more straightforward gangsta rap sound. Largely produced by The Revelations, it featured guest spots from the likes of AZ, Kool G Rap, and Pharoahe Monch.
Sour Soul followed in 2015 and featured music from BadBadNotGood, the Toronto-based jazz trio. That same year, composer Younge returned for Twelve Reasons to Die II, a sequel featuring guest appearances from Vince Staples, RZA, and Raekwon. A sequel to Twelve Reasons to Die, simply titled Twelve Reasons to Die II, was also released on July 10, 2015.
As in his past classics, Ghost digs deep in the crates for acts like The Moments and Sylvia Robinson on various interludes.
“Those are the records that turned me into the man I am today,” says Ghost. “That's real soul.”
“I'm not going nowhere for a minute,” says Ghost. “I see myself rhyming until I'm 70… not saying I'm gonna be putting out records and all that, but this is a gift from God. I ain't finish balling out yet,” he says with a smile. “This is the beginning.”
My thoughts must be relaxed, be able to maintain / Cause times is changed and life is strange / The glorious days is gone, and everybody’s doing bad / Yo, mad lives is up for grabs
The Genius, aka the GZA, was the most cerebral MC in the Wu-Tang Clan, as well as perhaps the most acclaimed. His cool, precise flow and intricate, literate rhymes weren't as theatrical as Method Man or Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the two biggest commercial stars to spring from the collective.
But among hip-hop aficionados, The Genius was revered for his flawless technique and lyrical dexterity, and was considered by many to be the best pure rapper in the entire Clan. The Genius was born Gary Grice on August 22, 1966, in Staten Island, NY, which during the early ages of rap music, shuttled between several other New York boroughs with various relatives during his childhood. He would then travel throughout New York City sharpening his rap skills in scattered rhyme battles.
What has always set The GZA apart from the ordinary is his ability to create complex images with simple context, which he assembles to create thousands of vivid pictures. In his phenomenally cerebral use of metaphors, along with his signature way of ill rhyme construction, GZA further defines the parameters of what rap music should be.
He started learning rhymes by the earliest hip-hop MCs while spending time in the Bronx, and returned to Staten Island to share them with his cousins, who later became Ol’ Dirty Bastard and the RZA. In fact, the three of them first teamed up in the early ‘80s as part of an obscure group called All in Together Now.
Time passed, and The Genius landed a recording contract with Cold Chillin’, which, unfortunately, was nearing the end of its brilliant run. In 1991, he became the only future Wu-Tang member to release a solo album prior to the Clan's formation, with Words From The Genius. Produced mostly by Easy Mo Bee, the album flopped badly and, creatively, did little to hint at The Genius’ future standing.
Conflicts with the label sent The Genius packing, and he reteamed with a similarly disenchanted RZA (fresh off a failed stint with Tommy Boy) and Ol’ Dirty Bastard to co-found the Wu-Tang Clan. Adding six other friends and associates, the group became an underground sensation and took the rap world by storm with its 1993 debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
Their innovative contract allowed each member to sign a solo deal with whatever label they chose, and The Genius wound up on Geffen. In 1994, his first post-Wu solo track, “I Gotcha Back,” appeared on the soundtrack of the film Fresh. His second solo album, Liquid Swords, followed in 1995 and was hailed as a hip-hop classic thanks to its coolly understated menace.
While it didn't make him a star on the level of Method Man, the album did sell well, reaching the pop Top Ten and falling one spot short of the top of the R&B charts. There were no big mainstream hits, but the title cut, “Cold World,” and “Shadowboxin’” all did well on the rap charts.
Following the Clan's 1997 sophomore set, Wu-Tang Forever, The Genius returned to the solo arena with 1999's Beneath The Surface. While critics didn't praise it quite as lavishly as Liquid Swords, it was another well-received effort (especially compared to some of the lackluster follow-ups elsewhere in the Wu-Tang camp), and it topped the R&B album charts.
After reconvening with the Wu for 2000's The W and 2001's Iron Flag, The Genius dropped his fourth solo effort, Legend of the Liquid Sword, in late 2002, consolidating his reputation as one of the most skillful rappers around. Grandmasters, a collaborative project between himself and Cypress Hill DJ Muggs was released in 2005, followed the next year by an instrumental version and then a remix version in 2007.
A year later GZA released the solo album Pro Tools on the indie label Babygrande, and to most fans, it's was a return of an entirely revolutionary thought process. It's the metaphors he constructs that makes the Genius’ liquid sword a living legend in it's own time. It featured guest shots from Wu affiliates RZA, Masta Killa, and producer Mathematics.
GZA is currently working to improve science education in New York City through a partnership with Teachers College, Columbia University Professor, Christopher Emdin and website, Rap Genius. This initiative motivates young people to learn science through creating raps and engaging in a rap competition.
But he don’t know the meaning of dope / When he’s looking for a suit-and-tie rap that’s cleaner than a bar of soap / And I’m the dirtiest thing in sight / Matter of fact, bring out the girls and let’s have a mud fight
Just like any burgeoning culture, hip-hop is inundated with corruptions and false promises. Lately, the MCs in commercial leadership are too busy basking in their new found riches to uplift the starving streets that supported their talent in the first place.
As a member of one of the most significant musical collectives in recent history, Inspectah Deck (born July 6, 1970), has never fallen victim to the ill powers that be. He is also one of the Wu-Tang Clan's lesser-known members, despite his talent as both an MC and producer. Born Jason Hunter, Deck earned the first part of his nickname as the quiet, watchful eye in the corner; his other aliases included Rollie Fingers, Fifth Brother, and Rebel INS, the latter a graffiti name tag he used as a youngster.
Deck was born in Brooklyn but grew up on Staten Island, attending school with several future Wu members. He was heard on most of the key tracks from the group's classic 1993 debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), including the singles “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Protect Ya Neck.”
However, the release of his own solo debut –– which was rumored to have been completed in 1995 –– was postponed indefinitely.
Meanwhile, “Let Me at Them,” effectively a Deck solo track that was credited to the Clan, appeared on the Tales from the Hood soundtrack in 1995. Deck was an overlooked presence on the Clan's sprawling second album, Wu-Tang Forever (1997); among other appearances, he produced the track “Visionz” and contributed the essentially solo “The City.”
In 1999, he finally released his debut solo album, Uncontrolled Substance, which featured a number of less-exposed Wu-Tang affiliates as guests, not to mention more of Deck's own production. The record sold pretty well, climbing into the Top Five of the R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
Deck subsequently returned to the Wu-Tang fold for the albums The W and Iron Flag. In 2003 the rapper released his follow-up, The Movement, and continued releasing solo sets –– such as 2006's Resident Patient and 2010's Manifesto/Manifesto Redux (Dubstep), which features guest-appearances from Raekwon, Cormega, Termanology, Planet Asia, Cappadonna, Kurupt, and M.O.P.'s Billy Danze –– every few years.
He also appeared on dozens of additional tracks by his Wu associates, and is still known today to merge both the deep soul and righteous posturing of the decade's urban legends seamlessly with today's current events.
By challenging both conventional big business standards and popular hip-hop principals, Inspectah Deck is poised to enrich the rap game with one his most thought provoking and lyrically cohesive works to date.
“I'm not trying to save the world; I'm just trying to save the music. The music I grew up with educated you. I'm trying to take it back to when you got respected on the weight of your thoughts and character and not your material possessions.”
I smoke on the mic like smokin Joe Frazier / The hell raiser, raisin hell with the flavor / Terrorize the jam like troops in Pakistan / Swingin through your town like your neighborhood Spiderman
Considered the ninth member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Masta Killa (b. Elgin Turner - August 18, 1969; aliases: High Chief, Noodles) recorded his first rhymes at the end of “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’” from the Clan's 1993 classic seminal debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
He had never seriously written rhymes, let alone rap before then. However, under the tutelage of the GZA, he developed a steadily paced flow that accentuated his intellectual lyrics –– although equally distinctive were his smooth voice and understated demeanor.
Because Killa was incarcerated at the time, his closing verse on “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’” was his sole contribution to the album, but he always remained in the fold on the set of Wu-Tang solo records that ensued in the mid-‘90s, including GZA's Liquid Swords, Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, and Ghostface Killah's Ironman.
Also after his release, Masta Killa made appearances on every Wu-Tang Clan album, many solo Wu projects, as well as projects by Afu-Ra, Bounty Killer and Public Enemy. Masta Killa feels his time has finally come.
He derived his rap name from the 1978 kung-fu film Shaolin Master Killer, (Shao Lin san shi liu fang). He is also known as Noodles, and is often referred to as Jamel Irief. The most quiet and mysterious Wu-Tang member, Masta Killa rarely speaks during public appearances and interviews and very little is known about him.
“I know I seem serious and quiet to a lot of the fans. That's because I take my work seriously. It's not a game. The Clan and I work hard to give you the best,” says Masta Killa.
There was no questioning his status in the Clan after the release of their 1997 album, Wu-Tang Forever, where Killa contributed to numerous tracks, particularly his standout lines on the lead single, “Triumph.”
“I'm bringing back that original Wu-Tang sound. I'm bringing the family and fans back together like how everyone remembers… the whole Wu-Tang movement. I know what they've been waiting for all these years any they won't be disappointed.”
Nonetheless, similar to the plight of Wu-Tang member Inspectah Deck, Killa worked on his solo material for many years before it would actually come out. After two more Wu-Tang full-lengths and a second string of Wu splinter projects, his solo career finally began with No Said Date, released via underground rap label Nature Sounds in 2004 –– the first solo release by MK and the first by a Wu-Tang Clan member to stay entirely in-house for production in quite sometime, having been handled mostly by RZA, True Master & Allah Mathematics.
Staying in-house with producers the RZA, Mathematics, and True Master, the album was one of the few Wu-related releases post-Wu-Tang Forever that received critical praise, particularly by Wu-Tang's loyal fan base. Killa returned in 2006 with Made In Brooklyn, working with a more diverse array of underground producers, including MF Doom, Bronze Nazareth, and the legendary Pete Rock.
This is a gathering / of the masses that come to pay respects to the Wu-Tang Clan / As we engage in battle, the crowd now screams in rage / The high chief, Jamel Irief, take da stage
Method Man was the first solo star to emerge from the groundbreaking Wu-Tang Clan. His mush-mouthed, sandpaper-rough bellow (at times recalling EPMD's Erick Sermon) and imaginative rhymes easily made him one of the most recognizable, unpredictable MCs in the group, yet his flow was more deliberate and laid-back than the Wu's resident loose cannon, Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
On his solo records, Method Man developed a persona that swung from offhand, understated menace to raucous stoner humor. Toward the end of the ‘90s, his frequent team-ups with Redman produced not only a terrific musical chemistry, but an eventual big-screen comedy team as well.
Method Man was born Clifford Smith on April 1, 1971, in Hempsted, Long Island; he split his childhood between his father's Long Island residence and his mother's Staten Island home. It was the latter locale where he met his future Wu-Tang cohorts RZA, Genius/GZA, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard; when they set about forming a hip-hop collective in the early ‘90s, Method Man was one of the first to sign on.
Meth was heavily featured on the group's classic late-1993 debut, Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers), even getting his own showcase track with “Method Man,” which certainly put him out front in terms of name recognition.
Thanks to the Wu's innovative contract –– which allowed individual members to sign solo deals with whatever label they chose –– Method Man inked a contract with Def Jam, and in 1994, approximately one year after Enter the Wu-Tang's release, he became the first Wu member to release a solo album, Tical.
Highly anticipated, the album entered the charts at number four and quickly went platinum, while singles like “Bring the Pain” (which just missed the pop Top 40) and “Release Yo’ Delf” made him an even bigger name in the hip-hop community. He began making numerous guest appearances on other artists’ records, and in the summer of 1995, his one-off single with Mary J. Blige, “I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By,” soared into the pop Top Five, giving Meth his first major mainstream exposure.
Shortly thereafter, another duet –– this time with Def Jam labelmate Redman –– on the compilation track “How High,” climbed into the pop Top 20.
Wu-Tang Clan reconvened in 1997 for the double album Wu Tang Forever, and about a year later, another round of solo projects commenced. Method Man issued his sophomore effort, Tical 2000: Judgement Day (ironically), in late 1998 and took a more expansive approach this time out, filling the album with between-song skits and a variety of guest rappers and producers.
Tical 2000 was another hit, entering the charts at number two. Meanwhile, in addition to recording the album, Meth had spent much of 1998 getting his acting career off the ground; after landing a few bit parts, he made his first prominent big-screen appearance in Hype Williams’ Belly.
In 1999, Meth partnered up with Redman to form a duo act that hit the road with Jay-Z's Hard Knock Life tour; they also entered the studio together to record the collaborative album Blackout!, which entered the charts at number three that fall and received highly complimentary reviews.
Wu-Tang Clan returned in late 2000 with the lower-profile The W. After completing the record, Meth refocused on his acting career; in early 2001, he put in a month's worth of appearances portraying a young gangster on HBO's gritty prison drama Oz (along with The Wire) and teamed up with Redman for the Cheech & Chong-styled stoner comedy How High, which hit theaters toward the end of the year, around the same time as the fourth Wu-Tang album, Iron Flag. After numerous delays, the MC released his third solo album, Tical 0: The Prequel, in 2004.
He allegedly finished off 20 tracks with RZA as the producer, but Def Jam opted to release a version that featured only one of those cuts. In 2006, Meth issued 4:21…The Day After, which featured appearances from many Wu-Tang members, including a posthumous verse from ODB. A steady stream of mixtapes, live albums, and concert videos appeared before Method reunited with Redman for the 2009 album Blackout! 2.
In 2013 he reunited with Wu-Tang for the single “Family Reunion” while 2014 saw the release of the group's album A Better Tomorrow. He signed with the Tommy Boy label for the 2015 solo album The Meth Lab, then later in the year, Redman returned for the collaborative effort Blackout!, Vol. 3.
Meth's charisma and skills has also brought him numerous endorsements (such as the spokesman for Right Guard). Make no mistake. Method Man has come a long way from the projects of Staten island and the early, grimy days when a group of childhood friends teamed together to unleash the most influential hip hop act of its time, Wu Tang Clan. The rest?
Hip hop history and a body of work that has stood the test of time and the fickle nature of the music industry. Ask Method Man how he sees himself in the pecking border of rap bandits and the answer is pure Meth.
Blunted non-assassin, time for action, Johnny Unitas / Handle that like arthritis / Still, hold a golden touch like King Midas
One of the founding members of the Wu-Tang Clan, who recorded some of the most influential hip-hop of the ‘90s, Ol’ Dirty Bastard (“ODB”) was the loose cannon of the group, both on record and off. Delivering his outrageously profane, free-associative rhymes in a distinctive half-rapped, half-sung style, ODB came across as a mix of gonzo comic relief and not-quite-stable menace.
Unfortunately, after launching a successful solo career, his personal life began to exhibit those same qualities. ODB spent much of 1998 and 1999 getting arrested with ridiculous, comical frequency, building up a rap sheet that now reads not so much like a soap opera as an epic Russian novel. At first, his difficulties with the law made him a larger-than-life figure, the ringmaster of rap's most cartoonish sideshow.
Sadly, his life inevitably slipped out of control, and the possibility that his continued antics were at least partly the result of conscious image-making disappeared as time wore on. It was difficult for observers to tell whether ODB's wildly erratic behavior was the result of serious drug problems or genuine mental instability; bad luck certainly played a role in his downfall, but so did his own undeniably poor judgment.
Despite being sentenced to prison on drug charges in 2001, it's worth noting that while he was running amuck Ol’ Dirty's offenses were largely nonviolent; the saddest part of his story is that, in the end, the only person he truly harmed was himself.
Ol’ Dirty Bastard was born Russell Tyrone Jones in Brooklyn in 1969, and grew up in the neighborhood of Fort Green as a welfare child. As he got older, he started hanging out more and more with his cousins Robert Diggs and Gary Grice; they all shared a taste for rap music and kung-fu movies. The trio parlayed their obsessions into founding the Wu-Tang Clan, renaming themselves Ol’ Dirty Bastard (since there was no father to his style), the RZA, and the GZA, respectively.
The Wu grew into an innovatively structured hip-hop collective designed to hit big and then spin off as many solo careers for its members as possible. Buoyed by the RZA's production genius and a number of strong personalities, the Wu-Tang Clan's first album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), which is considered one of the greatest ever hip-hop albums, was released at the end of 1993 and became one of the most influential rap albums of the decade.
Earlier in the year, Ol’ Dirty had been convicted of second-degree assault in New York, the only violent offense ever proven against him; trouble continued to stalk him in 1994, when he was shot in the stomach by another rapper in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn following a street argument.
Luckily, the injuries weren't serious, and Dirty became the second Wu-Tang member to launch a solo career (after Method Man) when he signed with Elektra and released the RZA-produced Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version (1995) in early 1995. The stellar singles “Brooklyn Zoo” and “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” both became hits, making the album a gold-selling success.
Additionally, his guest spot on a remix of Mariah Carey's “Fantasy” produced one of the year's unlikeliest hitmaking teams. With the concurrent success of the other Wu solo projects, anticipation for the group's second album ran high, and when the double-disc Wu-Tang Forever came out in the summer of 1997, it sold over 600,000 copies in its first week of release. Included on the second disc was “Dog Shit,” two and a half minutes of perhaps the most bizarre, scatological ODB ranting that had yet appeared on record. And then, the saga began.
In November 1997, Ol’ Dirty Bastard was arrested for failing to pay nearly a year's worth of child support –– around 35,000 dollars –– for the three children he had with his wife, Icelene Jones (by this point, he'd fathered a total of 13 children, beginning in his teenage years).
Things picked up in February 1998: he started his own clothing line, dubbed My Dirty Wear, and along with several protégés, he rushed out of a New York recording studio to help save a four-year-old girl who had been hit by a car and lay trapped underneath. The very next day, at the Grammy Awards (where The Wu had been nominated for Best Rap Album), there followed the incident that truly established the Ol’ Dirty legend.
During Shawn Colvin's acceptance speech for her Song of the Year award, ODB rushed the stage seemingly out of nowhere, clad in a bright red suit. He took over the microphone and launched into a rambling complaint about buying an expensive new outfit but losing the Grammy to Puff Daddy. As Jones took the stage to a round of applause, he asked the audience, “Please calm down, the music and everything. It's nice that I went and bought me an outfit today that costed a lot of money today, you know what I mean? ‘Cause I figured that Wu-Tang was gonna win. I don't know how you all see it, but when it comes to the children, Wu-Tang is for the children. We teach the children. You know what I mean? Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best, Okay? I want you all to know that this is ODB, and I love you all. Peace!”
Hustled off-stage after this puzzling, oddly timed outburst, ODB was the talk of the next day's news reports, and many mainstream outlets had to find ways of avoiding the “bastard” portion of his name. He further confounded the public by announcing in April that he was scrapping his Ol’ Dirty Bastard alias (which headed up a long list that included Osirus, Joe Bannanas, Dirt McGirt, Dirt Dog, and Unique Ason) and calling himself Big Baby Jesus. None of his explanations in interviews even verged on coherence, and the press never took the switch all that seriously; even the erstwhile Big Baby Jesus himself seemed to forget about the idea after a short time.
The rest of 1998 was a slow downward spiral. In April, he pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted assault on Icelene Jones, resulting in a protection order against him; the following month, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest after he missed two court dates concerning his child support payments (he finally did show up and signed an agreement to pay off the debts).
In late June, ODB was shot in a robbery attempt in Brownsville, Brooklyn; two assailants pushed their way into ODB's girlfriend's apartment, stole some money and jewelry from the rapper, and shot him once. The bullet entered his back and went through his arm before exiting his body, but luckily the wounds were superficial, and several hours after receiving emergency-room treatment, ODB ignored the hospital's request for overnight observation and simply walked out.
Only one week later, ODB was arrested in Virginia Beach for shoplifting, after walking out of a shoe store wearing a pair of 50 dollar sneakers. Adding insult to injury, his SUV was stolen from outside a New York recording studio a couple weeks later. Undaunted, Dirty went ahead with his plans to tour, set up his own Osirus Entertainment label, and recorded with a group of protégés called D.R.U.G. (Dirty Rotten Underground Grimies). As a result, he missed several court dates concerning his Virginia Beach shoplifting charge, resulting in an order for his arrest.
That difficulty seemed to matter less when, in September, ODB was arrested in Los Angeles for making terrorist threats. He'd been attending a concert by R&B singer Des’ree at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, and refused to be escorted outside by security who'd grown tired of his drunken rowdiness; after he was kicked out, he returned and threatened to shoot the security staff –– a felony in California, punishable by up to three years in jail.
Not two weeks after posting bail, ODB was kicked out of a hotel in Berlin, Germany, for lounging on his balcony in the nude (no charges were filed). He later returned to California, where he was arrested once again in November on more charges of making terrorist threats –– this time allegedly threatening to kill an ex-girlfriend (and mother of one of his children).
ODB pleaded not guilty in both “terrorist” cases, and returned to New York in January. At this point, it was still difficult to view ODB as a genuine criminal –– not that his conduct had been exemplary by any means, but there was a possibility that he was simply misunderstood, or that the California criminal justice system was essentially criminalizing the act of being a blowhard.
Shortly after ODB's return to New York, he was pulled over for a traffic violation while driving with his cousin. What happened next was never fully clarified. The officers claimed that ODB got out of his vehicle and started shooting at them; he was arrested and charged with attempted murder and criminal weapon possession.
However, the police were never able to produce a matching weapon, ammunition, or empty ammo shells to support their claims, and there were a multitude of conflicting stories reported from their side as to the exact details of the incident.
In February, a grand jury decided there was not enough evidence and dismissed the case, after which an outraged ODB filed suit against the arresting officers. Just a couple of weeks later, ODB once again fell victim to the vagaries of the California legal system.
After citing him for double-parking his car in Hollywood, police discovered that he was driving without a license, and when they searched him, they found that he was wearing a bulletproof vest. This was understandable, given his recent experience in New York, but California had recently passed a law making it illegal for convicted violent felons to wear body armor –– and because of his 1993 second-degree assault conviction, ODB fell under that category (in fact, his arrest was one of the very first under the law).
In March, now back in New York, ODB was pulled over for another traffic violation (this time driving without license plates), and police found a small amount of crack cocaine in his SUV, leading to misdemeanor drug possession charges. Five days later, ODB was pulled over and cited again for driving without license plates, as well as driving with a suspended license.
In the face of this impossible legal maze, April brought one small bit of good news –– the terrorist-threat charges involving his ex-girlfriend were dismissed due to lack of evidence. What was more, former O.J. Simpson defense attorney Robert Shapiro signed on as ODB's legal representative.
Still, ODB's run of ill luck continued. At the end of July, he was jailed in California for failing to pay a portion of his bail from the House of Blues case (in a recent court hearing, he'd acknowledged financial difficulties stemming from his legal bills). He was able to post the money and was released; however, just days later, he was arrested in New York after running a red light. He was still driving on a suspended license, but what was more serious, officers discovered not only marijuana, but 20 vials of crack cocaine.
He was able to post bail, but didn't return to Los Angeles for a hearing in the body-armor case, and his bail there was revoked and a bench warrant issued for his arrest. In mid-August, ODB checked himself into a rehab center in upstate New York, hoping to address his escalating problem with hard drugs; he soon transferred to a different center in California.
Somehow, in the middle of his incredible, headline-dominating run as a bicoastal outlaw, ODB had found time to record a new album under the auspices of several different producers, including the RZA and the Neptunes. Released in September 1999, N*gga Please entered the charts at number ten, aided by his position as the undisputed king of hip-hop bad boys; it also spawned a minor hit single in “Got Your Money”, which featured chorus vocals by R&B singer Kelis.
In November, ODB received more good news, of a sort: his sentencing in the two pending California cases (the body armor and the House of Blues) came out to one year in drug rehabilitation and three years’ probation, with no prison time. Despite the fact that a resolution was in sight, ODB complained during the sentencing hearing that he felt police had been targeting him excessively.
That sense of persecution manifested itself in a January 2000 hearing in New York, related to his drug charges; apparently exasperated by all the chaos, a sullen ODB ignored the presiding judge, talked dirty to a female DA (in typically bizarre fashion, he reportedly called her a “sperm donor”), and actually took a nap, thereby erasing any inclinations the prosecution had toward leniency.
Afterward, he apparently got drunk, violating the terms of his rehab program and probation conditions; upon returning to California, he was kicked out of rehab and transferred to jail. Although he could have faced prison time for breaking probation, ODB received a more lenient sentence of six months in rehab.
Up until this point, ODB had managed to avoid prison time, since he was clearly a drug addict in need of help. Yet at the same time, his apparent unwillingness to be helped meant that, for better or for worse, he was running out of chances. While he'd suffered some terrible luck in his run-ins with the law, the last straw was entirely of his own making: in October 2000, with just two more months in rehab to go, ODB made a run for it.
He spent the next month as a fugitive from the law, making his way across the country and secretly recording some new material with the RZA. ODB turned up in a very public fashion at the November record-release party for the new Wu-Tang Clan album, The W (which had been dedicated to him, and featured his vocals on one track, “Conditioner”; other contributions had been deemed too bizarre for release).
He took the stage in the Hammerstein Ballroom in front of hundreds of incredulous, wildly cheering fans, and only added to his mystique by managing to leave the facility without getting arrested, despite the large police presence outside. After a few more days on the lam, ODB was captured in a McDonald's parking lot in Philadelphia while signing autographs for a large crowd of fans; in fact, the crowd was so large that the restaurant manager had called police, not knowing what was going on.
ODB was extradited to New York, where he stood trial on not only his prior drug charges, but also the various traffic violations and a charge that he violated the protection order on Icelene Jones in 1998. After several trial postponements, in April 2001 ODB accepted a deal from prosecutors that essentially wiped out his other offenses in New York in exchange for a guilty plea to the cocaine possession charges.
He received the minimum sentence of two to four years in state prison, and received credit for the eight months he'd already served; moreover, he was allowed to serve the jail time he owed the state of California concurrently. Still, the daunting prospect of state prison was nearly too much for ODB to bear; in July, he had to be put on suicide watch pending a psychiatric evaluation, and reports surfaced that he'd suffered a broken leg after being assaulted in a holding facility.
It remained to be seen how ODB would hold up under the harsh environment of prison, and whether he would ever resolve his legal problems to the point where he could once again enjoy a productive recording career. Accordingly, Elektra issued the best-of compilation The Dirty Story: The Best of Ol’ Dirty Bastard in late 2001, despite the fact that he'd only released two albums.
In early 2002, some of the material he'd recorded during his fugitive days surfaced on the new album The Trials and Tribulations of Russell Jones, put out by the small D-3 label. With a dearth of actual ODB material to rely on, the album was padded out by a number of guest rappers and handled by unknown producers (even the RZA steered clear of the affair), and ODB himself went on record as knowing virtually nothing about the release.
The reviews were almost uniformly scathing, calling Trials and Tribulations a shoddy piece of exploitation. In 2003, the day he was released from prison, with Mariah Carey and Damon Dash by his side, Jones signed a contract with Roc-A-Fella Records/Dame Dash Music Group. Living at his mother's home under house arrest and with a court-ordered probation, he managed to star in a VH1 special, Inside Out: Ol’ Dirty Bastard On Parole.
He also managed to record a new album, originally slated to release A Son Unique in 2004; but while in the recording studio he collapsed and died of an accidental drug overdose (via a lethal mixture of cocaine and the prescription drug tramadol), and it has since been shelved indefinitely. In October 2004, one month before his death, his last collaboration was Jon B. on the track, “Everytime” from the album, Stronger Everyday. In 2005, he was posthumously featured on the song “Blah-Blah-Blah” by Brooke Valentine on her album, Chain Letter.
Leading up to his death though, Jones’ legal troubles and odd behavior made him “something of a folk hero”, according to The New Yorker writer Michael Agger. Music writer Steve Huey wrote that “it was difficult for observers to tell whether Ol’ Dirty Bastard's wildly erratic behavior was the result of serious drug problems or genuine mental instability.”
Blaow! How you like me now? / Don’t f*ck the style, ruthless wild / Do you wanna get your teeth knocked the f*ck out? / Wanna get on it like that, well then shout
Raekwon (born January 12, 1970) may not have achieved the solo stardom of his fellow Wu-Tang Clan mates Method Man or Ol’ Dirty Bastard, but along with Genius/GZA and frequent partner Ghostface Killah, he's done some of the most inventive, critically acclaimed work outside the confines of the group.
Born Corey Woods and also nicknamed the Chef (because he's “cookin’ up some marvelous sh*t to get your mouth watering”), Raekwon joined the Staten Island, NY-based Wu-Tang collective in the early ‘90s and played an important role on their groundbreaking late-1993 debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
Although the group's contract allowed its individual members to sign with whatever label they chose, Raekwon stayed with Loud when the first round of Wu-related solo projects began to appear. Following his 1994 debut single, “Heaven and Hell,” his own solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, appeared in 1995.
Critics and fans alike unanimously agreed, Cuban Linx was an instant classic. An opulent sonic journey defined by Raekwon's cinematic narratives and narcotized hooks. The production delivered by Wu-Tang's Abbot, The RZA, was simply supreme –– his best comprehensive work to date.
And never had a co-star been so illustrious: Cuban Linx also managed to showcase the talents of then under represented Wu-Tang band mate, Ghostface Killah. This was also the beginning of the “Rae and Ghost” collaborations which have yielded some of hip hop's most beloved songs.
Though, while it didn't sell on the level of Method Man's Tical, singles like “Ice Cream” and “Criminology” earned him a reputation in the hip-hop underground.
Moreover, the album received near-unanimous critical praise for its evocative, image-rich storytelling and cinematic Mafia obsession (on some tracks, he adopted the guise of gangster Lex Diamonds). Also notable was Raekwon's crackling chemistry with heavily featured collaborator Ghostface Killah, who enjoyed something of a coming-out party with all the exposure (he hadn't been nearly as much of a presence on Enter the Wu-Tang).
Raekwon returned to the Wu-Tang fold for the group's 1997 sophomore effort, Wu-Tang Forever. That LP was followed by a second round of solo albums, and Raekwon's Immobiliarity was released in late 1999, this time on Epic. This time around, neither RZA nor Ghostface Killah contributed to the album at all and perhaps as a result, reviews were more mixed.
Raekwon recorded with the Wu on their subsequent albums The W (2000) and Iron Flag (2001), and returned in 2003 with another solo album, The Lex Diamond Story. He also released a sequel to his solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, in 2009.
In 2010 he joined Method Man & Ghostface Killah on the collaboration album Wu Massacre, then Busta Rhymes, Nas, and Rick Ross all appeared on his 2011 album Shaolin vs. Wu Tang, as a response to RZA's 8 Diagrams album. The album ushers the beloved Wu-Tang sound into the current decades, leaving fans reminiscent while excited about the freshness of the sound..
The EP Lost Jewlry (it features guest appearances from Maino and Freddie Gibbs, as well as production from Scram Jones, among others) followed in 2012, then in 2014 he reunited with the Wu-Tang Clan for the album A Better Tomorrow and a supporting tour. The solo effort and concept album Fly International Luxurious Art followed in 2015, filled with songs inspired by both aviation and money.
I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times side / Staying alive was no jive / Had secondhands, Mom’s bounced on old man / So then we moved to Shaolin land
RZA (born July 5, 1969), is the Wu-Tang Clan's chief producer. Also known as the Abbott, Prince Rakeem, the Rzarector, Bobby Steels and Bobby Digital, he was born as Robert Diggs. RZA first surfaced in the rap game during the early ‘90s as a member of the rap group All In Together Now, from Staten Island, New York (containing fellow Wu members GZA/Genius and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
Following All In Together Now, he signed to the label Tommy Boy Records under the name Prince Rakeem. He issued his first EP Ooh We Love You Rakeem in 1991. He then formed the Wu-Tang Clan together with his fellow members. After a huge underground buzz surrounding the hit “Protect Ya Neck” he was able to sign the group to Steve Rifkind's Loud Records.
RZA, as a producer, is responsible for many Hip-Hop influential classics such as the group's 1993 debut, Enter The Wu-Tang 36 Chambers, which is considered to be one of the most influential albums ever.
RZA has never released a true RZA album; however he does have four albums out but under his alter ego named Bobby Digital: Bobby Digital In Stereo (1998), Digital Bullet (2001), Birth of A Prince (2003), and Digi Snacks (2008).
Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai (1999) was the first soundtrack RZA ever created. It's not going to be his last project in the movie business since he's working together with Quentin Tarantino, on his fifth movie, Kill Bill.
In 2007 and 2009 respectably, he did the scores of the Japanese anime Afro Samurai and Afro Samurai: The Resurrection starring Samuel L. Jackson. He recently and quietly released an instrumental album entitled, The RZA-Instrumental Experience, and worked with Raekwon on his highly anticipated Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… II.
He also appears in the Showtime TV series Californication. His directorial debut is for the film he co-wrote (with Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino) and in which he plays the title role, The Man with the Iron Fists, also starring Russell Crowe, Cung Le, Lucy Liu, Byron Mann, Rick Yune, Dave Bautista, and Jamie Chung (both the film and its soundtrack featured music from the RZA and his Wu-Tang associates Ghostface Killah and Method Man, along with tracks from Kanye West and the Black Keys), along with his recent role in G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
In August 2012, RZA founded a new record label Soul Temple Records with a distribution deal from RED Distribution. On September 28, 2012 he hosted a show “Equals Three” replacing Ray William Johnson. He appeared on Earl Sweatshirt's album Doris, contributing a verse on the track “Molasses”. Despite artistic disagreements with Raekwon, RZA and The Wu-Tang Clan released their sixth album A Better Tomorrow in 2014.
Bam! Aw, man! I, slam, jam, now scream like Tarzan / I be tossing and flossing my style is awesome / I’m causing more Family Feuds than Richard Dawson
U-God (born November 10, 1970), has been with the group since its inception, and has been known for coming with strong verses on clan albums as well as other members solo albums.
U-God was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York. However he moved to Staten Island as a youth. He was originally a beatboxer for fellow clan member Cappadonna, as well as being well known friends with future members Method Man, Inspectah Deck, and Raekwon.
Later on narcotics possession prevented him from featuring heavily on the group's debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), as his input consisted of only a short bridge on the group's debut single “Protect Ya Neck” as well as the now famous opening verse of “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’”.
Nevertheless, after his release he quickly became known to fans for his rugged flow and bass-like voice on Wu tracks such as “Winter Warz”, “Knuckleheadz”, “Investigative Reports”, and “Black Jesus.” He was featured heavily on the group's second album Wu-Tang Forever on which he was one of only three of the group to get a solo track – “Black Shampoo”.
U-God's solo albums include 1999's Golden Arms Redemption, 2005's Mr. Xcitement, and 2009's Dopium: Bring Back God, while touring around the globe in support of 8 Diagrams. In 2013, U-God released the album, The Keynote Speaker with production by RZA who also served as the album's executive producer.
Weak MC’s approach with slang that’s dead / You might as well run into the wall and bang your head
The Wu-Tang Clan's range of big-name, non-Wu-Tang artists has expanded exponentially since their early days. Close collaborators to individual members or the group as a whole include or have included mainly East Coast-based artists, including Redman, Mobb Deep, Busta Rhymes, Erick Sermon, Nas, Pete Rock, and others.
The following is a list of Wu-Tang Clan collaborative works, either with other artists within the clan, associates of other parties/groups and/or producers.
They are at times directly funded, supported, or produced by Clan members, are formed as extension groups originating from Clan members, or close to The Clan. The list is ever growing, but there remains a basis of sound and content musically common amongst the vast majority.
A.I.G. is a duo composed of Allah Wise (aka The Wizard), and Darkim Be Allah. The group, whose name stands for “Allah Is God”, debuted on the Wu-Tang Killa Bees: The Swarm compilation with the track “Bronx War Stories”. An album titled Retaliation Strike was completed but was never released, a situation which eventually caused the group to leave the Wu-Tang stable and pursue an independent route, though they remain on good terms with the collective.
Achozen [pronounced: UH-choh-zen] (occasionally typeset as AcHoZeN) is a project by System of a Down bassist Shavo Odadjian, Wu-Tang Clan member RZA, Killarmy member Kinetic 9, and Wu-Tang Clan affiliates Reverend William Burke.
Group formed in 2008 by Killah Priest originally consisted of Bronze Nazareth, M-Eighty, Son One, C Rayz Walz, and 5 Star. They released their album Original S.I.N. in 2008. In 2014 the group reformed under a new lineup of Bronze Nazareth, M Eighty, Nino Grave, Canibus, Cappadonna and Planet Asia to release the album The 2nd Coming.
A group started in 1999 and mentored by Oli “Power” Grant and Raekwon consisting of Chip Banks (died 2000), Polite (who would join Rae's second group Ice Water Inc.), Lord Superb (who was featured on Rae and Ghost albums), Twiz (who would later become part of Ghost's Theodore Unit), Triflyn, and RhymeRecka. Raekwon featured American Cream Team on two songs on his second album Immobilarity and much of that album was produced by Triflyn. They were notably a clan member's first offspring crew.
A group which consists of Armel, Got Flow, High Price, J.R. Spoons, Spanky Splash, Destroya and Holy Smokes. Released the Who Got Change? EP on the MP3.com website in 2000.
One of the many Wu-affiliates to debut on the The Wu-Tang Killa Bees: The Swarm compilation, this Californian group was originally associated with the group North Star (also from California) with whom they recorded as Black Knights Of The North Star. However, the groups have since separated. The group originally consisted of Crisis, Doc Doom (deceased), Rugged Monk, and Warcloud. Warcloud left the group to concentrate on his solo recordings.
Black Market Militia is a rap group composed of Killah Priest, Timbo King, Hell Razah, Tragedy Khadafi and William Cooper. They released their first – Black Market Militia – in 2005, through Performance Records, invisioned and initiated by Mitchell Serbes, Gary Hertzan and Mariel Maffetone. They had previously released two underground mixtapes, The Black Market Vol. 1 and Vol. 2: Dead Street Scrolls.
A group closely affiliated with Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The group is made up of rappers Merdoc, Raison the Zoo Keeper, 12 O'Clock, Buddha Monk, and Shorty Shitstainand some of those who left in early stages. They released an album in 2008 titled Chamber #9, Verse 32.
A group affiliated with Buddha Monk and Brooklyn Zu. The group is composed of Drunken Dragon, Espionage (deceased), War, Babyface Fensta, Chilli Black, Lee-Major, G-Note$, Professor King Bean (deceased), and Born U Majesty. They released one album, Manchuz Dynasty, in 2007.
Deadly Venoms is a Wu-Tang Clan affiliated all-female hip hop group formed in 1997 consisting of N-Tyce, J-Boo, Champ MC and Finesse. X Clan affiliated rapper Lin Que was initially intended to be part of the group but departed soon after its inception due to business decisions. Each member of the group were experienced rappers prior to joining the collective.
The Force MDs is an American R&B vocal group, that was formed in 1981 in Staten Island, New York. Although the group has old school hip hop roots, they are perhaps best known for two tunes that are widely considered 1980s quiet storm classics, “Tender Love” and “Love is a House.” They are considered major forerunners of the New Jack Swing movement.
GP Wu (short for Gladiator Posse) was an American hip hop group consisting of four members, Pop Da Brown Hornet, Down Low Recka, Rubbabandz and June Luve. The group formed in 1993 and were one of the many affiliates of The Wu-Tang Clan.
God “A.G.R.” Harrison, Willys “Wil Power” Duran, Lord “Black Jesus” Harrison, and Ruben “Young Man” Rosario. Supporting members include Shawn “Shawn Sparks” Stewart, “Stove Marino”, “Dre Eazy”, “Big Williams”, Omar “Khilly Mo (pronounced CHilly MoH)” Daniels, and John Haynes. Featured producers are “Uncle Slyde” of Sourface Productions and “Big Deal” of The Beatshop and Blakhouse Marketing.
A group affiliated with U-God. Original members were King Just, Leatha Face, Inf-Black, Kawz, Desert Eagle, Black Ice & singer Autumn Rae. Members now consist of Leatha Face, Inf-Black, Kawz, & Desert Eagle. Released their debut album, U-Godzilla Presents The Hillside Scramblers, in 2004. Leatha Face released his debut mixtape Dog Will Hunt through Chambermusik Records and is working on his debut album. A second Hillside Scramblers album was planned also.
A group affiliated with Inspectah Deck and made up of rappers D.C., La Banga, P.C., Carlton Fisk and Fes Taylor. They released one project in 2004 titled UndaDogz Vol. 1: House Gang Animalz and have appeared on other mixtapes including the Back to Sicily mixtape of Hanz On collectively in 2012.
A group consisting of Cigar, Polite (formerly of American Cream Team), Stumik and P.C. (of House Gang). They were featured on Raekwon's third album, The Lex Diamond Story. Raekwon unveiled their debut album from Ice Water's Polluted Water via Babygrande Records in 2007. The album featured guest appearances from Wu members Raekwon and Method Man, as well as other appearances from Busta Rhymes, DJ Paul of Three 6 Mafia, Pimp C, Rick Ross, Jagged Edge, and Remy Ma.
Group fronted by Wu-Syndicate's own Napoleon and features Solomon Childs, Dexter Wiggles from Westcoast Killa Beez and UK artist Shaka Amazulu the 7th. They are also called Wuminati.
K.G.B. (short for Klik Ga Bow) is a group made up of rappers Asiatic, Ill Knob Blobby Blob Head, Raheem, and DJ Kin. They released a few singles and appeared on songs by other Wu-Tang affiliates.
Killarmy is a hip hop group that is known through its affiliation with Wu-Tang Clan It is one of the earliest and most successful of the many Wu-Tang affiliates along with Sunz of Man. It distinguishes itself from the other Wu-Tang Clan affiliates with gritty subject matter, differing from the standard subject matter of martial arts and M.C. skills common to Wu-Tang Clan and their affiliates and focusing on themes of military and combat, terrorism, conspiracy theories, but with a heavy dose of the Five-percenter philosophy prevalent in everything related to Wu-Tang Clan.
Wu-Tang affiliated group made up of rappers Bam-Bam, Itchy Fingas Sha, Trigg-nomm, Pearl Handles, and Naisha. They released their first album All About the Money in 2003.
Killah Priest's group who were introduced and featured heavily on his second album View From Masada. Originally composed of Killah Priest, Daddy Rose and Salahudin, the group is now composed of Killah Priest, Timbo King, and Hell Razah. Hot Flamez who is now known as Hah Flamez is also a close affiliate of the group.
Northstar is an American hip hop duo, composed of rappers Christ Bearer and Meko The Pharaoh. The group used to record with fellow Californian group Black Knights as Black Knights Of The North Star, and indeed the two groups were initially signed by RZA as such to Wu-Tang Records. The groups have since split into two separate units, and Northstar released their debut album in 2003, titled Bobby Digital Presents Northstar, which also featured a reunion with Black Knights on the closing song “Black Knights Of The North Star”.
A group consisting of members 4th Disciple, Beretta 9, Lord Superb, associate of Rae and Ghost, and ShoGun Assason. Not to be confused with the underground group associated with Definitive Jux and Rhymesayers Entertainment.
Royal Fam is a Hardcore hip hop musical group affiliated with Wu-Tang Clan. Timbo King is the given head of the group, along with Wu associate Dreddy Kruger, and Y-Kim, the former Wu producer, was initially their main producer.
Sunz of Man is a Wu-Tang Clan affiliated group that currently consists of Prodigal Sunn, Hell Razah, 60 Second Assassin, Shabazz the Disciple and Killah Priest. The group's first incarnation also included 7th Ambassador and Supreme. It is one of the earliest and most successful of Wu affiliates along with Killarmy, basing much of its lyrical content on biblical stories, social issues, conspiracy theories, and a dose of Five Percenter teachings.
Dom Pachino's independent label. Although the roster changed, years ago it initially consisted of rap artist Infinite who was introduced to Wu-Tang Clan by RZA's younger brother 9th Prince. Infinite has since released new mixtapes from his independent label Elite. A few years later NLZ and C-4 were added to Team Napalm. As of 2011, current members of Napalm are Dom Pachino, Bugsy Da God and Chapelz. In 2007 Dom Pachino formed a new production company called Warface Music, with members consisting of Dom Pachino, Bugsy Da God, Chapelz & Jewels Polaar.
Washington DC natives Tha Beggas, at times confused with the spelling The Beggaz is a collective of hip-hop artists and groups that was featured on Wu-Tang Killa Bees: The Swarm album on a song called On The Strength. Some of the artists include: Long Axe (Black Lotus), Dragonfly (Black Lotus), Mega Soul, Scorpion, Samo Heung, Begga Ooh, Longfist, Bolo Gah (Actual Facts), Buda Love (Actual Facts), Jim Kelly (Black Lotus), Majik Sword, Yukon Black (Short Axe) and Father Lord (Actual Facts) (deceased).
Theodore Unit is a loose collective of Staten Island rappers associated with the Wu-Tang Clan's rapper and executive Ghostface Killah. The name “Theodore” is derived from “The Open Door”, meaning the group acts as an open door to rappers who can prove themselves. It has also been stated it stands for “The Doers”, as in those with initiative and will.
Mentored by Ghostface Killah, the group consisted of Trife Da God, Tommy Whispers and Kryme Life. Kryme Life and Trife are members of Ghostface's group Theodore Unit, which effectively superseded T.M.F. They have continued to record in couples and as solo artists.
Group composed by 12 O'Clock, Prodigal Sunn. Made numerous guest appearances on various Wu-Tang Clan affiliates albums like Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, Iron Flag and The Great Migration.
The Warghosts project was created by Holocaust (aka Warcloud, Black Knights) and Bomshot (Devilz Rejectz). The Warghosts group has branched into international chapters such as Warghosts Germany and Warghosts South Africa as well as national chapters in Oregon and Washington State.
The Wisemen is a hip hop group formed by Wu-Tang Clan affiliate Bronze Nazareth (who is one of the newest and most-heralded Wu-Tang affiliates) and his brother, the lyricist and producer Kevlaar 7. However Kevlaar 7 died on December 23, 2014 from blood disorder.
This is a Latino collective composed of Latin American artists including Impetus, Rameses, 2Cara, and the group Los Yo Yais. They specialize in Latino Hip-Hop and released an album in 2008.
Wu-Syndicate is a group from Virginia consisting of Joe Mafia, Napoleon, and Myalansky (who named himself after the gangster Meyer Lansky). They were originally called Crime Syndicate but changed their name to Wu-Syndicate when they signed to Wu-Tang Records and became Wu-Tang Clan affiliates. After debuting on the compilation Wu-Tang Killa Bees: The Swarm in 1998, their self-titled debut album Wu-Syndicate was released in 1999 on both Wu-Tang Records and their own label Slot Time Records.
An Ol’ Dirty Bastard affiliated group composed of 5 Foot Sniper, Black Lantern, Celo, D.L., Hook Ninja, K-Blunt, Ninja Scroll, Popa Chief, Rambo, Raw, and Shaheed. The group released their first album Now Justice in 2005.
Along with 4th Disciple and others, 12 O'Clock is one of the Wu-Tang affiliates whose connections to the group go back to before their fame, and he is in fact Ol’ Dirty Bastard's cousin. He assisted behind the scenes in the making of the Clan's debut album and has made a few guest appearances on Wu-related albums since, including on the Clan's group album Iron Flag in 2001.
9th Prince (born Terrance Hamlin) is a rapper and one of the founding members of rap group Killarmy. He was initially responsible for bringing the various members together, under the guide of his brother. He released his solo debut album Granddaddy Flow in 2003. He is the younger brother of RZA. He went by the alias Madman & Iron Fingers, especially in his early recordings. 9th Prince gets his name from the kung-fu movie Shaolin Prince. He has pushed hard for a reunion album with his group, and helped to release a ‘greatest hits’ album.
Armel is a member of Ancient Coins, A&R and The Cra-Z 88z. He is signed to GZA's small label Liquid Swords Entertainment. He made his first high-profile appearance on the track “Rough Cut” on GZA's album Legend of the Liquid Sword in 2002. He has since formed the group A&R with Sharecka of Royal Fam. He released Armel presents Ancient Coins in 2003.
Kinetic 9 or Beretta 9 (born Samuel Craig Murray) is a member of the hip-hop group Killarmy, an affiliation of the group Wu-Tang Clan. They went on to record three albums Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars (1997), Dirty Weaponry (1999), In the Clear (2000) and their latest, Fear, Love & War (2001).
Member of Harlem 6 who is also affiliated with Gang Starr. Released his first solo album T.G.S.N.T. in 2005 and Gods of War in 2007.
Member of Brooklyn Zu who has worked prolifically as a rapper and producer for Wu-Tang affiliates including Da Manchuz and Zu Ninjaz. Buddha Monk has released The Prophecy (1998), Unreleased Chambers (2008), The Dark Knight (2013) as well as various mixtapes.
Bronze Nazareth (born Justin Cross in Grand Rapids, Michigan) is a Hip-Hop music producer and emcee associated with the Wu-Tang Clan. He is, along with Cilvaringz, part of the new generation of producers to carry on the Wu-Tang sound as a Wu-Element. He has a solo career as an emcee and is also a part of the hip-hop group Wisemen along with his brother Kevlaar 7.
Tarik Azzougarh, better known as Cilvaringz, is a rapper, executive manager and hip hop producer associated with the Wu-Tang Clan. He was discovered by Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Method Man at a Wu-Tang Clan concert in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on May 26, 1997. After impressing Ol’ Dirty Bastard with a live freestyle on stage he was introduced to RZA who signed him to Wu-Tang Records in 1999.
Formed A.I.G. with Allah Wise and dropped their self-titled debut-album in 2005 on Fame Labs Records. Mostly known for producing RZA solo song from The Gravediggaz album The Pick, The Sickle & The Shovel in 1997. In 2000 he released an 8-track EP called Live at the Lab: Take 1 through mp3.com. 2008 saw Fame Labs release The Manhattan Project, a compilation which heavily featured Darkim Be Allah. Live At The Lab: Take 2 is a 15-track album produced by Darkim and featuring various members of the Fame Labs crew including AllahWise, 36Zero and Darkim himself.
Dom Pachino (born Domingo J. Del Valle in Manhattan, New York City) is a rapper of Puerto Rican descent. He is a member of the rap group Killarmy and also has a solo career. He is also known as P.R. Terrorist, but he has rarely used this name since the September 11, 2001 attacks afraid that it may be taken the wrong way and affect sales.
Birth name James Dockery. Affiliated at one time with both United Kingdom and Royal Fam but now virtually retired from rapping, concentrating his attention on being the A&R for most Wu-Tang members. Heavily involved with the Wu-Tang's business and promotion, while running his own label Think Differently Music. Think Differently released the compilation Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture in 2005, which featured Wu-Tang members and affiliates collaborating with well-known independent/underground hip hop artists to big independent success. They further released a double disc album Wu-Tang The Lost Anthology in 2007. He continued to work for compilation and side projects under the Wu's greater team. His name is derived from the horror film legend Freddy Krueger.
The son of Popa Wu and cousin of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, RZA and GZA. He debuted in 1999 on Popa Wu's Visions of the 10th Chamber with his partner Shacronz as the Cuffie Crime Family or ‘CCF Division’, He also appeared on the 2008 sequel Popa Wu's Visions of the 10th Chamber Part II. Free Murda and Shacronz also featured on the Wu-Tang Killa Beez 2002 album The Sting (“Hatin’ Don't Pay”), RZA's album Birth of a Prince (“We Pop”, “The Drop Off” and “Wherever I Go”) Prodigal Sunn's 2005 album Return Of The Prodigal Sunn, and Think Differently's 2005 release Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture (“Cars On The Interstate”). Free Murda also appears on the Derailed Original Soundtrack (“Really Want None”), Cappadonna's album The Yin & The Yang (“Revenge”), Northstar's self-titled album (“We Got It” and “See Me”), and furthermore on Masta Killa's Made In Brooklyn on the track “East MCs”. He released his debut solo album, Let Freedom Reign in 2007 on Cleopatra Records.
Anthony Messado (born July 24, 1974), better known by the stage name Hanz On or Hannibal The Great, is an American rapper and an affiliate of the Wu-Tang Clan. He released his solo debut, Out Of Chef's Kitchen in 2010, and has since co-founded a record label called Hanz On Music. He is closely tied to another affiliate named Carlton Fisk.
Chron Smith (born October 1, 1976), better known by his stage name Hell Razah, is an American rapper. He is best known as a member of Sunz of Man, an early affiliate group of the Wu-Tang Clan. Razah is rumored to have suffered a brain aneurysm in April 2010. He was quick to recover and continue recording. He came to adopt the moniker Heaven Razah.
A member of Killarmy was absent for most of the recording of their debut album Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars due to incarceration. A Five Percenter like all of Killarmy, the first three letters of his name (I, S, L) are also the first three letters in of the religion they claim adherence to, Islam. Therefore, the name Islord is a fusion between the terms “Islam” and “lord.” Birth name Rodney Stevenson, also known as Thief of Baghdad. Appears on two tracks from Bobby Digital in Stereo and the song “Holy Water” from Dom Pachino's Unreleased solo album.
Italian-American MC from Staten Island, JoJo Pellegrino made major underground headway for his blunt style and word play. He caught the attention of various heads in the early 2000s, particularly that of Chris Lighty, to then sign with Violator Management. With the fall of Loud Records, however, his album was shelved in 2001, Forgetaboutit (though it can now be found online). He released material on mixtapes and features having recorded with Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, and Method Man. After putting together his own label, the album Flawless – Machine Gun Pelly, with singles and videos coming out in 2011 began to emerge marking his return after a long hiatus.
Walter Reed (born August 17, 1970), better known by his stage name Killah Priest, is an American rapper and Wu-Tang Clan affiliate who was raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville, Brooklyn. He is known for his intensely spiritual lyrics, containing religious references and metaphors. He is connected to the Black Hebrew Israelites through his rhymes, and is known for his controversial and political subject matter. He is also a part of supergroup the HRSMN along with Canibus, Ras Kass, and Kurupt.
Born Adrian Angevin (1972), King Just was a member of the Shaolin Soldiers (Profes now know as Fes Taylor, Leatha Face, Star & Mega Don) who originated from the Park Hill section of Staten Island. His debut album is named Mystics of the God and was released in 1995. He has subsequently participated in projects by the Hillside Scramblers and The Outfit.
Lason Jackson, better known as La the Darkman, is a Wu-Tang Clan affiliated rapper and MC from Grand Rapids.
Originally a member of Raekwon's Cream Team, he became close with Ghostface Killah and his Theodore crew, as well. He appeared on Rae and Ghost albums, standing out particularly in Supreme Clientele. He has since cut ties with the Wu, and served time in jail. He has brashly stated that he gave Ghost his style, and felt abandoned when Rae's Cream Team came to an end. He has since released official mixtapes.
An Othorized F.A.M. MC whose other names are Lounge Mode or Lounger was formally signed to Code Red Entertainment. Lounge has been connected with the Wu since their very beginning his earliest reference was on GZA's “Pass The Bone”. He appears numerous times on his older brother Cappadonna's albums.
Female MC from South Cali who first came to light on “Digital Bullet”. She is closely linked with the Westcoast Killa Beez (Black Knights & Northstar) and Deadly Venoms, and was set to be the fifth member of the group Deadly Venoms. She hosted an underground hip hop show named “Ground Zero” in LA for a while.
The father of Wu-offshoots ShaCronz and Free Murda and an expert on the philosophy of the Five Percent Nation, Popa Wu can be heard giving teachings on Wu-Tang tracks such as “North Star” (Raekwon), “Black Jesus”, “All That I Got Is You” (Ghostface Killah), “The Blessing”, and “Wu-Revolution”. He released a solo album titled Visions of the 10th Chamber in 2000, which was effectively a compilation of Wu-affiliated artists (including La the Darkman, Method Man, & Ol’ Dirty Bastard) with regular interjections from Popa Wu himself.
Prodigal Sunn (real name, Lamar Ruff) is an American rapper, actor and entrepreneur.
Remedy (born Ross Filler in 1972 in Staten Island, New York) is an emcee and hip-hop producer. He is known for being the first white rapper and the first Jewish rapper to be affiliated with the Wu-Tang Clan. He owns and runs Code Red Entertainment, his label which released Cappadonna's The Struggle album. He also served as executive producer on Inspectah Deck's album Manifesto.
Shabazz the Disciple or Scientific Shabazz, is a rapper from the Red Hook Houses of Red Hook, Brooklyn. He is an original member of the Sunz of Man and Da Last Future.
Shyheim (born Shyheim Dionel Franklin in New York, New York) is an American rapper and actor affiliated with the Wu-Tang Clan. He was associated with a group called G.P. Wu and then began collaborating with Wu-Tang Records affiliated groups Killarmy and Sunz of Man.
Jerome Albert Evans Jr., known as Silkski, is an American rapper, song writer, and music producer who is known from his affiliation with Ol’ Dirty Bastard (ODB) and the Wu-Tang Clan, whose affiliates are known as the Wu-Tang Killa Beez. Silkski is a PYN, Wu-Tang Management, Da Gutta Ent., Bungalo, Street Scholar, Universal Music Group artist and was a member of Brooklyn Zu before ODB's death.
Solomon Child is a Staten Island artist closely associated with various members of the Wu. Backed by the RZA in combination with his brother Divine (CEO) of Wu Music Group. He released his debut album entitled The Voice of the People in 2009. A close associate of Cappadonna and Remedy, he was once part of Theodore Unit before going completely solo. He originally rapped under the moniker, Killa Bamz, and has continued releasing albums with features by numerous affiliates, as well as forming his own label. In 2013 Solomon Childs appeared on the single “Bang To The Death” by Mike ADHD featuring Ruste Juxx, Kromeatose, Fes Taylor and Solomon Childs (Produced by 4th Assassin).
Patrick Charles, better known by the stage name Streetlife, is a hip hop artist who is a close associate of the Wu-Tang Clan, particularly of Method Man. He was born in the Bronx, moved to Houston, Texas, and later moved to Staten Island where he grew up.
He is Ghostface Killah's eldest son, he made his debut with the song “Man Up” on Put it on the Line in 2005. he appears twice on his album More Fish in “Miguel Sanchez” and “Street Opera”. He also appears on “Yapp City” and “Paisely Darts” from Ghost's album The Big Doe Rehab, “Man Up” on Put it on the Line, “Dogs Of War” on Fishscale and “Gunshowers” on the Wu-Massacre album. He is signed to Starks Enterprises, his father's label.
Born Timothy Drayton (March 26, 1973) in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York. Timbo King is the best-known member and leader of Royal Fam. Released an EP titled United We Slam in 1994 with producer Spark 950 as an early form of Royal Fam. Formed the group 56 Platoon in 2005, along with some other ex-Royal Fam members. Has his own label, Fortknox. He released an album, From Babylon to Timbuk2, in 2011 largely produced by Bronze Nazareth.
Trife Diesel or Trife Da God (born Theo Bailey in Stapleton, Staten Island, New York) is an affiliate of the Wu-Tang Clan. He is a protégé and close associate of Ghostface Killah and is part of both of his protégé groups T.M.F. and Theodore Unit.
Born Anthony Creston Brown, Warcloud is a west coast Wu-Tang Clan affiliate and former member of the group Black Knights (when he was known as Holocaust, the Sign of Hell's Winter). He is also known by the aliases Alcatraz and Robot Tank. He has released five albums to date: Nightmares That Surface from Shallow Sleep, Smuggling Booze in the Graveyard, Blue Sky Black Death Presents: The Holocaust in collaboration with production duo Blue Sky Black Death, Theatre of Pain, in collaboration with American Poets 2099, and “Holocaust as Robot Tank – The Signs of Hells Winter”.
GZA's son, he first appeared on the intro to his father's Legend of the Liquid Sword album and then released a cover of his father's “Killa Hills 10304”. Also appears, with Lord Jamar's and Ol’ Dirty Bastard's sons, on Lord Jamar's The 5% Album. Signed to Liquid Swords Entertainment and hoping to release an album soon, he is currently pursuing an education.
Young Dirty Bastard is Ol’ Dirty Bastard's eldest Son. He toured with the Wu-Tang Clan during their 2007 tours. Under the guidance of his uncle, the RZA, he has already recorded 3 mixtapes carrying on his father's legacy. He was also featured on Brand Nubian member Lord Jamar's debut solo album The 5% Album, on the track “Young Godz”, together with GZA's son Young Justice and Lord Jamar's son Young Lord. Young Dirty Bastard released his first album in 2011 entitled Food Stamp Celebrity Vol. 1.
Al Green-style singer who was featured on RZA's Birth of a Prince. He has made appearances on Ghostface Killah's The Pretty Toney Album, Masta Killa's debut No Said Date as well as both Mathematics albums. He released his mixtape Real Estate in 2005 through CHAMBERMUSIK.
Candi Lindsey (born June 9, 1972), better known by her stage name Blue Raspberry, is an American singer from Pleasantville, New Jersey. She is perhaps best known for her affiliation with East Coast hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Her moniker was given to her by fellow Wu-Tang affiliate Killah Priest, who said she reminded him of a blue raspberry.
A solo artist affiliated with Sunz of Man. Her first collaboration was with Sunz of Man on the Five Deadly Venom mixtape called We Can't Be Touched, produced by Ray Rolls and Tony Touch. Other tracks include “Fire” with Royal Fam, produced by Arabian Knight, and “Doing Our Thang” produced by Joe Loopz on Sunz of Man's album. She was asked by RZA to work with Tekitha and other female singers affiliated with Wu-Tang to work on a “Black Shampoo Project”, but nothing ever materialized. She has recorded three projects: E.A.R.T.H. P.O.W.E.R. (2004), Balance (2005), and Throwback Classics (2005).
The Los Angeles-based “future soul” group Stone Mecca is a part of the Wu-Tang Family. The group consists of founder/producer Tru James, Princess Tre Azure, The Countess Adrienne King, Prince Super Day aka Inglewood Green, and Sir Joseph on guitar. Stone Mecca has made recent contributions to the RZA's Digi Snacks album and accompanied RZA on the Summer 2008 Digi Snacks US/Canada Tour. They were last featured on the Afro Samurai & Afro Samurai: Resurrection soundtracks.
Reggae artist who appeared on the Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai – The Album compilation and is affiliated with the new United Kingdom clique. Performed the chorus of “In the Hood” from the Wu-Tang Clan's Iron Flag album. He was on “Cameo Afro” with Big Daddy Kane & GZA from The RZA Presents: Afro Samurai OST. Is featured on the track “Cold Outside” on Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II.
Model, actress, and musician (sings and raps) who was discovered by Berretta 9 aka Kinetic of Killarmy. Featured on several Killarmy projects, she was later introduced to the RZA around the recording of Iron Flag album. The RZA featured her on the Birth Of A Prince album, Raekwon's OBFCLII, the Afro Samurai: Resurrection soundtrack, George Clinton's George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love, and Wu-Tang Clan's 8 Diagrams album. Signed a production deal with the RZA and is currently working on an album.
Tekitha is a Wu-Tang Clan affiliated female vocalist who was the Wu-Tang Clan's in-house singer (previously filled by Blue Raspberry) for the album Wu-Tang Forever, on which she also performed a solo track titled “Second Coming”. She also filled in for the unavailable Mary J. Blige in the video for Ghostface Killah's “All That I Got Is You”.
Thea Van Seijen is a Dutch vocalist affiliated with RZA and can be heard on many of his albums and soundtracks.
Selwin Bougard, now known as El-Divine Amir Bey, better known by his stage name 4th Disciple, is a sonic artist and audio engineer who was one of the founding members of Killarmy and one of the best-known Wu-Tang-affiliated producers. He is the only of the Wu Elements to have worked on the Clan's first breakthrough album, as a mixer.
Sulayman Ansari, better known as Arabian Knight, is a hip hop producer affiliated with the Wu-Tang Clan. He has also been credited as Q-Base.
Big Deal/Righteous Born aka Djehwti Awsar El (Jah-whotie Uhsar El) has produced tracks for many established names including Havoc, Sade, Onyx, Black Rob, Ice-T, Guru of Gang Starr, Lil’ Kim, Puff Daddy, Timbo King and Killah Priest amongst others. Is a member of the group Wu-Tang/Harlem 6.
Bronze Nazareth (born Justin Cross in Grand Rapids, Michigan) is a Hip-Hop music producer and emcee associated with the Wu-Tang Clan. He is, along with Cilvaringz, part of the new generation of producers to carry on the Wu-Tang sound as a Wu-Element. He has a solo career as an emcee and is also a part of the hip-hop group Wisemen along with his brother Kevlaar 7.
Tarik Azzougarh, better known as Cilvaringz, is a rapper, executive manager and hip hop producer associated with the Wu-Tang Clan. He was discovered by Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Method Man at a Wu-Tang Clan concert in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on May 26, 1997. After impressing Ol’ Dirty Bastard with a live freestyle on stage he was introduced to RZA who signed him to Wu-Tang Records in 1999.
Wu-Tang affiliated producer and recording engineer (as arranger/composer/cameo artist) that studied under the direction of Billboard Top 100 producer RNS. His works include Ghostface Killah & Trife Da God's Put it on the Line track “Project Soap Operas” (as co-producer song arranger).
Official DJ to Prodigal Sunn of the Wu-Tang Clan affiliate group Sunz Of Man, and international club DJ, producer, and remixer of both EDM & Hip-Hop. Also known as the “Ladies Favorite Most Hated” (#LFMH).
Close producer of Killarmy, including individual members 9th Prince and Dom Pachino, he has also produced with Inspectah Deck, Solomons Childs, Polite, and Kool G Rap. He is something of a 4th Disciple student, so to say, though not much is known about him. Had once been proposed to sign as a Wu Element, but cordially turned the proposition down. He remained close with various affiliates, and while being able to expand to other artists, as well. He has released various compilation albums to date.
The self-proclaimed “King of Mixtapes”, he is responsible for most of the Wu-Tang affiliated mixtapes and is the official tour DJ for Ghostface Killah.
Mathematics, also known as Allah Mathematics, (born: Ronald Maurice Bean) is a hip hop producer and DJ for the Wu-Tang Clan and its solo and affiliate projects.
Closely associated with Cilvaringz, he produced tracks like “Wu-Tang Martial Expert” and “Valentine's Day Massacre”.
Production group consisting of Russ Prez, Smokin‘ Joe, and Storm. The group produced music for a variety of Wu-Tang affiliates, primarily those from Protect Ya Neck Records.
Producer whose works include tracks by Shyheim, GP Wu, King Just, Pop da Brown Hornet, and the Gravediggaz. RNS is credited as the one who taught The RZA the art of production. Has been keeping a low profile out of the Wu for a while now and extended his work into mixing and engineering.
Originally, Su-Preme was the primary producer of Sunz of Man. He produced their demo album (when the group was called Da Last Future) while still forming and taking shape as the first to be signed Wu-Tang affiliates. He also produced some songs on the shelved Sunz of Man album Nothing New Under the Sun. Su-Preme was credited as producing the songs “Natural High” and “Israeli News” on the Sunz of Man debut album, The Last Shall be First. He is closely associated with Shabazz the Disciple, having produced for his solo pieces.
True Master (born Derek Harris) is an American hip-hop producer and Wu-Tang affiliate. On September 14, 2011, True Master was arrested at his Harlem apartment for escaping from a New York courthouse after being arraigned on charges of sexual assault.
He was the primary producer for the Killa Beez group, Royal Fam, Y-Kim achieved a cult-following among Wu-Tang fans. He produced the majority of the Royal Fam's album Black Castle (at first shelved then re-released), as well as many contributions to early albums from Sunz of Man, Killah Priest, Cappadonna, and Buddha Monk. Although RZA is credited as producer, it is rumored that he produced the song “What Da Blood Clot?” from Method Man's Tical.