The Wu-Tang Clan is an American hip hop group from New York City originally composted of 10 East Coast rappers. Let’s see some amazing facts and trivia about it!
1.The original members are RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Cappadonna.
2. RZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard adopted the name for the group after the film Shaolin and Wu Tang.
3. The group’s debut album loosely adopted a Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang theme, dividing the album into Shaolin and Wu-Tang sections.
4. The group developed backronyms for the name (as hip hop pioneers such as KRS-One and Big Daddy Kane did with their names), including “We Usually Take All Niggas’ Garments”, “Witty Unpredictable Talent And Natural Game”, and “Wisdom of the Universe, and the Truth of Allah for the Nation of the Gods”.
5. The Wu-Tang Clan first became known in 1993 following the release of the independent single “Protect Ya Neck”, which immediately gave the group a sizable underground following, especially after their tour with Kat Nu and Cypress Hill.
6. Though there was some difficulty in finding a record label that would sign the Wu-Tang Clan while still allowing each member to record solo albums with other labels, Loud/RCA finally agreed, releasing their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), in November 1993.
7. This album turned out to be critically acclaimed, and to date is regarded as one of the greatest hip hop/rap albums of all time.
8. The success of Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers established the group as a creative and influential force in mid-1990s hip hop, allowing Ol’ Dirty Bastard, GZA, RZA, Raekwon, U-God, Method Man, and Ghostface Killah to negotiate solo contracts.
9. RZA was the first to follow up on the success of Enter the Wu-Tang with a side project, founding the Gravediggaz with Prince Paul and Frukwan (both of Stetsasonic) and Poetic.
10. The Gravediggaz released 6 Feet Deep in August 1994, which became one of the best known works to emerge from hip hop’s small subgenre of horrorcore.
11. It had always been planned for Method Man to be the first breakout star from the group’s lineup, with the b-side of the first single being his now-classic eponymous solo track.
12. In November 1994 his solo album Tical was released. It was entirely produced by RZA, who for the most part continued with the grimy, raw textures he explored on 36 Chambers. RZA’s hands-on approach to Tical extended beyond his merely creating the beats to devising song concepts and structures.
13. The track “All I Need” from Tical was the winner of the “Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group” at the 1995 Grammy Awards.
14. In the late summer, and early fall of 1995 saw the release of Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, and GZA’s Liquid Swords, which would turn out to be the group’s two most significant and well-received solo projects.
15. Cuban Linx was a diverse, theatrical criminological epic that saw RZA move away from the raw, stripped-down beats of the early albums and towards a richer, cinematic sound more reliant on strings and classic soul samples.
16. The album is highly notable in that it revived, and expanded the Mafioso rap subgenre, which started to decline several years beforehand. Lavish living and the crime underworld are referenced throughout using quotes from the John Woo movie The Killer, with the mystique of the Wu-Tang Clan deepened by the adoption of crime boss aliases and the crew name Wu-Gambinos.
17. The album introduced a flurry of slang words to the rap lexicon, and many artists have gone on to imitate its materialism. Cuban Linx featured all but one Wu member, and featured the debut from Cappadonna.
18. The album also featured rapper Nas, who was the first non-Wu-Tang-affiliated MC to appear on a Wu-Tang Clan album. GZA’s Liquid Swords had a similar focus on inner-city criminology akin to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, but it was far darker, both in GZA’s grim lyrics and in the ominous, foreboding production that saw RZA experimenting more with keyboards than ever before.
19. Liquid Swords features guest appearances from every Wu-Tang Clan member, and is linked together by excerpts from the movie Shogun Assassin. 1995 also saw the release of the Wu Wear clothing line, which would turn out to be massively successful, and influential on hip hop culture.
20. It initially started as a mere way to make money from the demand for bootleg Wu-Tang Clan shirts, and evolved into an extensive collection of designer garments. Soon, other hip hop artists were making similar ventures and by the mid-2000s, a clothing line was almost a prerequisite for hip hop superstardom, with clothing lines launched by Puff Daddy, Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Nelly, Ludacris, 50 Cent, and more.
21. Almost a year after the release of Liquid Swords, Ghostface Killah released his first solo album, Ironman in late October 1996.
22. The album struck a balance between the sinister keyboard-laden textures of Liquid Swords and the sentimental soul samples of Cuban Linx, while Ghostface himself explored new territory as a lyricist. Ironman was critically acclaimed and is still widely considered to be one of the best of Wu-Tang solo albums.
23. Although the 1994–1996 albums were released as solo, RZA’s presence behind the production, and the large number of guest appearances from other Wu-Tang Clan members has rendered them to be mostly all-round group efforts.
24. In 1996, the group appeared on the Red Hot Organization’s compilation CD, America Is Dying Slowly, alongside Biz Markie, Coolio, and Fat Joe, among many other prominent hip hop artists. The CD, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African American men, was heralded as “a masterpiece” by The Source magazine.
25. With their solo careers firmly established, the Wu-Tang Clan reassembled to release the highly anticipated Grammy-nominated multiplatinum double album Wu-Tang Forever in June 1997, debuting at number one on the Billboard Charts.
26. This event was featured in a CNN roundup for the extraordinary sales the group achieved without a mainstream sound or commercial appeal. The album’s first single, “Triumph”, was over five minutes long, featured nine verses (one from each member plus Cappadonna and excluding ODB who appeared on the intro and bridge), and no hook or a repeated phrase.
28. The sound of the album built significantly on the previous three solo albums, with RZA using more keyboards and string samples, as well as, for the first time, assigning some of the album’s production to his protégés True Master and 4th Disciple. The group’s lyrics differed significantly from those of 36 Chambers, with many verses written in a dense stream of consciousness form heavily influenced by the teachings of the Five Percent Nation.
29. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album has sold over 8.3 million copies to date worldwide.
30. Wu-Tang Forever also marked the end of RZA’s “five-year plan”. After …Forever’s success, RZA ceased to oversee all aspects of Wu-Tang product as he had done previously, delegating much of his existing role to associates such as Oliver “Power” Grant and his brother Mitchell “Divine” Diggs.
31. This move was designed to expand Wu-Tang’s reach in the industry and take advantage of financial opportunities for the group. In keeping with this move, an array of Wu-Tang products (both musical and otherwise) were to be released over the next two years.
32. Following Wu-Tang Forever, the focus of the Wu-Tang empire largely shifted to the promoting of emerging affiliated artists. The group’s close associate Cappadonna followed the group project with March 1998’s The Pillage.
33. Soon after, Killah Priest, another close associate of the Clan, released Heavy Mental to great critical acclaim. Affiliated groups Sunz of Man and Killarmy also released well-received albums, followed by Wu-Tang Killa Bees: The Swarm—a compilation album showcasing these and more Wu-affiliated artists, and including new solo tracks from the group members themselves.
34. There was also a long line of releases from secondary affiliates such as Popa Wu, Shyheim, GP Wu, and Wu-Syndicate. Second albums from Gravediggaz and Killarmy, as well as a greatest hits album and a b-sides compilation also eventually saw release.
35. While this round was commercially successful, it was not as critically acclaimed as its predecessor. The second round of solo albums from Wu-Tang saw second efforts from the five members who had already released albums, as well as debuts from all the remaining members, with the exception of Masta Killa.
36. In the space of two years, RZA’s Bobby Digital In Stereo, Method Man Tical 2000: Judgement Day and Blackout! (with Redman), GZA’s Beneath the Surface, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Nigga Please, U-God’s Golden Arms Redemption, Raekwon’s Immobilarity, Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele and Inspectah Deck’s Uncontrolled Substance were all released (seven of them being released in the space of seven months between June 1999 and January 2000).
37. RZA also composed the score for the film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, directed by Jim Jarmusch, while he and other Wu-Tang members contributed music to a companion “music inspired by the film” album.
38. The avalanche of Wu-Tang product between 1997 and 2000 was considered by some critics to have resulted in an oversaturation that was responsible for Wu-Tang’s decline in popularity, or at least in critical regard during that time period.
39. Reviews such as Melody Maker’s writeup on Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele in January 2000 which began “Another month, another Wu-Tang side project” revealed critics’ exhaustion at the Clan’s prodigious output. The overall reception for the second round of Clan member solo albums was decidedly mixed if largely positive, and they did not live up to their pre-…Forever forebears critically.
40. Occasional albums would still receive critical acclaim (Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele being one of them, is regarded as one of the best solo efforts from the Clan) while Method Man and ODB remained popular in their own right as solo artists, and Wu-Tang remained as a well known force, but they had seemingly lost the ability to excite the music world in the way they had throughout the earlier, and mid-1990s.
41. Many fans and critics also bemoaned the lack of RZA’s input on the post-…Forever solo albums, which were mostly produced by the Wu-Element producers, other lower-ranking affiliates, or by outside producers such as the Trackmasters or the Neptunes
42. The group reconvened once again to make The W, though without Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who was at the time incarcerated in California for violating the terms of his probation.
43. Though incarcerated, ODB managed to make it onto the track “Conditioner” which featured Snoop Dogg.
44. ODB’s vocals were recorded via the telephones used for inmates to talk with visitors, while in prison. The W was mostly well received by critics, particularly for The RZA’s production, and also gave the group a hit single with the uptempo “Gravel Pit”, part of a trilogy of videos where the group would visit different eras with a time traveling elevator, which also included “Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)” and “Careful (Click, Click)”, which were then followed by “I Can’t Go to Sleep” featuring Isaac Hayes.
45. The album would go on to reach double platinum status.
46. Shortly before the release of The W, ODB escaped custody while being transported from a rehab center to a Los Angeles court and was considered a fugitive.
47. At a record release party for The W, ODB appeared with his face hidden by an orange parka, and was not recognized until introduced to the crowd. With police officers present outside, ODB performed briefly and then fled, fearing capture. Six days later ODB caused a commotion, signing autographs in a McDonald’s at Broad & Girard Street in North Philadelphia. Unaware of who was causing the commotion, the manager called the police.
48. When the law arrived, ODB mistook them for fans until they drew their guns. ODB fled the facility, but was stopped while trying to start his vehicle. After presenting a fake ID, he admitted his real identity, and was arrested.
49. In 2001, the Wu-Tang Clan released Iron Flag, 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. Group member Ghostface Killah would later denounce the record.
50. While originally featured on the cover of Iron Flag, Cappadonna was airbrushed out of the artwork and absent from the album entirely.
51. This may be related to tension that arose within the group when it was revealed that Cappadonna’s manager was, or had been, a police informant, a revelation that also brought on the manager’s subsequent firing.
52. Cappadonna would however, continue collaborating and touring with the group in the upcoming years.
53. Around this time Method Man began his acting career, along with close collaborator Redman, by starring in the stoner comedy film How High.
54. Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s career in Wu-Tang was marked by erratic behavior. At the 1998 Grammy Awards, he protested the Clan’s loss (to Puff Daddy in Best Rap Album) by interrupting Shawn Colvin’s acceptance speech for her Song of the Year award.
55. In addition, ODB’s run-ins with the law were well publicized—he was arrested several times for offenses including assault, shoplifting, wearing body armor after being convicted of a felony, and possession of cocaine, and he missed multiple court dates.
56. On November 13, 2004, ODB collapsed at Wu-Tang’s recording studio, 36 Chambers on West 34th Street in New York City, and was pronounced dead later that night.
57. Wu-Tang paid him homage a number of times: in August 2006, one of his sons came out at a Wu-Tang concert at Webster Hall and rapped “Brooklyn Zoo”, along with his mother, and during a concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom the Clan brought his mother out on stage for a sing-along to “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”
58. Wu-Tang Revealed, a GZA-directed documentary, promised to show behind the scenes of the Clan, has yet to be released.
59. U-God: Rise of a Fallen Soldier details U-God’s side of the struggle between him and RZA circa 2004-2005.
60. Gerald K. Barclay directed the Wu-Tang documentary, entitled Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan, which premiered on BET on November 13, 2008. The documentary was released on DVD on November 18, 2008.
61. On November 10, 2009 a documentary on Ol’ Dirty Bastard was released entitled; Dirty: The Official ODB Biography. The documentary features interviews and stories from his family members, Wu-Tang members, and affiliates, as well as old interviews with Ol’ Dirty, and live performances.
62. Wu Tang Saga, starring Cappadonna and featuring footage of the Clan dating back to the early nineties through their most recent tours was released on February 25, 2010
63. Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… helped (with the likes of Kool G Rap) popularize the Mafia theme in rap music that remained widespread for more than half a decade.
64. The landmark album touted a lifestyle patterned on drug dealing, regrets of living in harsh conditions, and partying (including popularizing the Cristal brand of champagne) which Nas, Mobb Deep, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, and other popular artists all borrowed and/or expanded upon these themes at points in their respective careers.
65. The Wu-Tang Clan’s slang has long been a staple of their music, wherein members would blend Five Percenter terms, Kung Fu/oriental words, and comic book and street terms to create their own nicknames for actions, people, places and things (such as the christening of Staten Island as “Shaolin Land” and money as “C.R.E.A.M.”).
66. RZA noted in the The Wu-Tang Manual, that Raekwon was the resident “slang-master” of a great deal of the slang used by the group.
67. During his career, The Notorious B.I.G. had a checkered relationship with the Wu-Tang Clan. He collaborated with Raekwon on the 1994 Ron G song “Stop the Breaks,” which also featured Killa Sin and KRS-One; the same year, on B.I.G.’s debut album Ready to Die, Method Man was featured on the song “The What” (and was the only featured rapper on the album.)
68,. The song, “The What,” was produced by Easy Mo Bee, who had strong ties to Notorious B.I.G. as well as several Clan members, such as RZA and GZA.
69. The Wu-Tang Clan has a wide range of collaborators and associates. 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.
70. The Wu-Tang clan also has many “affiliates” which receive support, financial and otherwise, from within the Clan. These are collectively known as the Wu-Tang Killa Beez.