Wu-Tang Clan - “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit’”
QUICKLY, WITHOUT LOOKING NAME ALL 9 EMCEES OF THE WU-TANG CLAN, RIGHT NOW.
How many did you get? I always make it a point to remember Masta Killa, but then that makes me forget U-God. Sorry, U.
The Wu-Tang Clan. One of the largest and most acclaimed groups to ever shake up the hip-hop world, helping to launch the NYC rap renaissance of the early ’90s, causing a major shift in the sound and style of the music for the rest of decade, launching the careers of seemingly hundreds of people, and creating a legitimate music and business empire, complete with a clothing line, video games, and hell, even a financial company.
Wait, that last one was a Chappelle’s Show skit. But it could happen.
Anyhow, before all of that, the Wu-Tang Clan began with rather humble beginnings, just three Brooklyn emcees: The Genius, Prince Rakeem, and A-Son. In the early ’90s both Genius and Rakeem issued solo efforts which went nowhere, and as a trio, was a group known as All In Together Now, which issued a single that got a little buzz but nothing much else. Fed up with the tough breaks, the three began working on a new group, with a very different sound and attitude. They recruited emcees from around NYC, taking in members Method Man, Raekwon the Chef, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, U-God, and Inspectah Deck. The three also took on new personas. The Genius became the GZA. Rakeem became the RZA. Ason adopted the eyebrow-raising moniker Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a slight alteration of an old kung-fu flick.
And speaking of old kung-fu flicks, the crew had a hot and heavy obsession with them. You know what I’m talking about, those ’70s-era poorly dubbed bootleg joints that’s all fighting and all mysticism, and a whole lot of cheese, and to that end, they created a mythology which heavily utilized elements of the films, right down to extensive samples in their music. To complete the aura, they dubbed themselves the Wu-Tang Clan, and called the slums of Shaolin (AKA, Staten Island) home.
Under the leadership of the RZA, who also handled the production duties, the Clan was in place by 1992 and wasted no time getting to work on their debut. Simply put, the album was blunt, in sound, content, and frequent recording studio activities. Through the weed smoke and numerous martial arts film samples, you hear harsh tales, great stream-of-consciousness rhymes, and distinct personalities and vibes of nine different emcees (well, seven and two-halves, since RZA was mostly behind the boards and Masta Killa was doing time in the clink during most of the record’s development), such as the methodical approach of GZA, the wild outbursts of Ol’ Dirty, and the blunted ways of Meth. When Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) dropped in late ‘93 it signaled to the West Coast-dominated rap world that New York was back. Along with debuts by Black Moon and Onyx, 36 Chambers heralded the arrival of the NYC hardcore, as well as the Wu’s bid for total world domination. In a brilliant move, the group managed to secure separate record deals for each artist, and RZA had a 5-year plan in place to handle the production duties of everyone in the camp, allowing for the Wu to release some of the finest rap of the ’90s and become a very high-profile crew.
Now, when people mention classic tracks from 36 Chambers, pretty much half the record is mentioned. Everybody knows “C.R.E.A.M.,” or “Can It All Be So Simple,” or “Method Man,” or “Bring The Ruckus,” or “Protect Ya Neck,” but personally, one of my all-time favorites of the record is ”Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit’.” To me, this one is wild, awesome, and just all-out fun as hell, made perfect by the “TIGER STYLE” vocal sample and the verses RZA and Inspectah Deck, which, after all these years, I still know by heart.
“And the survey said, YA DEAD, fatal flying guillotine chops off ya fuckin’ head!”
I’m young, stupid, and damn impatient. Leave it up to Pete Rock to set me straight.
Legendary NY beatmaker Pete Rock came to prominence in the early ’90s as one half of the dynamic duo, Pete Rock & CL Smooth. Together with the awesome rhymer CL, Pete made some profound music with 1992’s Mecca and the Soul Brother and ‘94’s The Main Ingredient (which I’ve covered previously on the ‘Beest). We were blessed for only a moment, as Pete and CL broke up a year after Ingredient. As CL took up his lifelong passion, crochet, Pete kept on, and in 1998 released his debut album Soul Survivor. During the creation of the record scores of rappers lined up around the block of the studio, eager to appear on the great composer’s prized instrumentals, and Soul Survivor features many notable artists, such as Common, Black Thought, Prodigy (of Mobb Deep), O.C., several members of the Wu-Tang Clan, and more.
Today’s song features none of those artists. I get off on withholding. Instead, on “Take Your Time” Mr. Rock himself takes up the mic (which he tends to do from time to time), to reflect on his career and passion for hip-hop. His featured guests on this one are Loose Ends, a UK R&B group which had its heyday back in the mid-’80s. “Take Your Time” is one of the album’s highlights, a shining example of Pete’s ability to make absolutely intoxicating tunes. It’s a subtle instrumental, kicked into low-earth orbit thanks to the vocals by Loose Ends, the echoing voice saying “time” repeatedly, the smooth bass, and easy vibes.
Just play this at night, and let Pete provide some peace of mind.
“Don’t sweat simple things…take your time, and do your thing.”
I grin like a moron every time I hear this song. Every single goddamn time.
Out of the nine members which form the hip-hop supergroup known as the Wu-Tang Clan, I would have to say that Ol’ Dirty Bastard is my favorite. While not the strongest rapper in the crew by a long shot, he was most certainly the oddest, and by far, the strangest motherfucker hip-hop has ever seen. Along with his cousins the RZA and the GZA, Ol’ Dirty (AKA Dirt McGuirk, Dirt Dog, Ason Unique, Big Baby Jesus, Big Baby Osirius, and a host of other titles) was a founding member of the Clan, whose 1993 debut, Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, jump started a renaissance in early ’90s New York rap, a scene which had been eclipsed in popularity by West Coast gangsta rap. 36 Chambers, with it’s blazed up stream-of-consciousness style influenced by countless kung-fu flicks, introduced the world to a group of rappers from all over the spectrum, such as the very intelligent, highly literate GZA, the business-minded criminal don in Raekwon, the heavily blunted Method Man, the street soldier Ghostface Killah, and so on.
But ODB was the outlier.
Was it the drugs, which he indulged in heavily, or was it a serious mental issue? No matter, Dirty was on some next level shit, and during his career he racked up considerable attention in the public eye for his wild outbursts, odd behavior, and a criminal record that could fill a library. Among other things, he was recorded on MTV taking a limo with his kids to the welfare office to pick up food stamps, interrupting the Grammy Awards by rushing onstage to declare that the Wu should have won an award instead of Puff Daddy (Oh, so THAT’S where Kanye got it from!), getting ensnared in constant drug/weapon busts, and running from the cops for weeks at a time.
It’s unfortunate that his run-ins with the law and eccentricities eclipsed his music. Even more unfortunate is the fact that he didn’t get the proper help he sorely needed, such as rehab and a psych evaluation. ODB’s passing from a drug overdose on November 13, 2004 was a sad day for hip-hop.
Though he released only two solo albums in his lifetime, his music is solid, unpredictable, and endlessly fascinating. Case in point is “Brooklyn Zoo,” from his 1995 debut, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version. Simply put, this song is spectacular. Wild, erratic, and bizarre, this one is a perfect introduction to the mind of Ol’ Dirty, who completely tears the fucking house down with a battle rap wherein every damn line is quotable and it hits you like a right deck to the jaw. Along with the awesome lines and drunken delivery the production is top notch, thanks to that organ, thumping bass, and those small whines like mosquitoes buzzing in your ears. It all compliments Dirty’s knockout performance perfectly.
“How, I don’t even like your motherfucking PROFILE, give me my fucking shit—chk-chk-BLOAWWWW!!”