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Wu-Tang Clan

Members of the Wu-Tang Clan and their affiliates performing at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore.
Background information
Origin Staten Island, New York, U.S.
Genres East Coast hip hop, hardcore hip hop
Occupations Rappers, lyricists
Years active 1992 – present
Labels Loud/RCA/BMG Records (1993–1998)
Loud/Columbia/SME Records (1999–2001)
Wu Music Group/SRC/Universal Motown/Loud (2007–present)
Associated acts (See below)
Website Wu-Tang Corp.
Members
RZA (1992 – present)
GZA (1992 – present)
Method Man (1992 – present)
Raekwon (1992 – present)
Ghostface Killah (1992 – present)
Inspectah Deck (1992 – present)
U-God (1992 – 2004, 2004 – present)
Masta Killa (1992 – present)
Cappadonna (unofficial; disputed)[1][2] (2000, 2007 – present)
Former members
Ol' Dirty Bastard (deceased) (1992–2004)

The Wu-Tang Clan are a New York City-based hip-hop group, which consists of: RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard. They are frequently joined by fellow childhood friend Cappadonna, whose status as an official member is in dispute. They were formed in (and are associated with) the New York City borough of Staten Island (referred to by members as "Shaolin"), though some of their members are from Brooklyn.

They have introduced and launched the careers of affiliated artists and groups,[3] often collectively known as the Wu-Tang Killa Bees.[4] In 2007, MTV ranked Wu-Tang the 5th greatest Hip-hop group of all time.[5]

Contents

History

Foundation and name

The founders of the Wu-Tang Clan were cousins Robert Diggs, Gary Grice, Russell Jones (RZA, GZA, and Ol' Dirty Bastard respectively[4]) who had formed the group Force of the Imperial Master (later known as All in Together Now after the release of a popular single by that name). The group attracted the attention of figures in the industry, including Biz Markie,[6] but did not manage to secure a record deal.

All In Together Now was never signed to a record label. See, me, GZA and ODB had a crew called FOI: Force Of The Imperial Master, nahmean? We made a song, called 'All In Together Now', which became famous on tapes throughout Brooklyn, Downtown Staten Island, New York, all the way down to Miami. I remember Biz Markie, when he was famous and I wasn't famous, and he was like: "Yo! I heard that shit! Your song with Ason Unique and the Specialist". I was the Scientist. So we never got signed as a group back then. We never had a serious record deal under that title.[7]
—RZA

Wu-Tang Clan was assembled in late 1992 with RZA as the de facto leader and the group's producer.[4] The name "Wu-Tang" is derived from the name of the mountain Wu Dang (Wudang Shan) in northwest Hubei Province in central China with long history associated with Chinese culture, especially Taoism, martial arts and medicine.[8] The RZA and Ol' Dirty Bastard adopted the name for the group after the film Shaolin and Wu Tang.[9] The group's debut album loosely adopted a Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang theme, dividing the album into Shaolin and Wu-Tang sections.[10]

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".[9]

Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and solo albums

The 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. Though there was some difficulty in finding a record label that would sign 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 late 1993. This album turned out to be critically-acclaimed, and to date is regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.[11][12][13] 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, Method Man, and Ghostface Killah to negotiate solo contracts. Rakim and KRS-One both believe that without the Wu-Tang Hip-Hop would've died. They believe RZA created true masterpieces with all solo albums, especially the GZA's Liquid Swords album and the 'Purple Tape'.[4] RZA mentioned on wuforever.com:

We reinvented the way hip hop was structured, and what I mean is, you have a group signed to a label, yet the infrastructure of our deal was like anyone else's ...we still could negotiate with any label we wanted, like Yung Dirt went with Def Jam, Rae stayed with Loud, Ghost went with Sony, GZA went with Geffen Records, feel me?....and all these labels still put "Razor Sharp Records" on the credits.. ..Wu Tang was a financial movement. So what do you wanna diversify....? ..Your assets?[14]
—RZA

First round of solo albums

The period between the release of Enter the Wu-Tang and Wu-Tang Clan's second album is considered to be "the greatest winning streak in rap history."[15] The 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. The Gravediggaz released 6 Feet Deep in August 1994, which became one of the best known works to emerge from hip hop's small sub-genre of horrorcore.[4]

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. In November 1994 his solo album Tical was released. It was entirely produced by The RZA, who for the most part continued with the grimy, raw textures he explored on 36 Chambers. The RZA's hands-on approach to Tical extended beyond his merely creating the beats to devising song concepts and structures.[4] 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.[16]

After the release of Method Man's Tical, Ol Dirty Bastard was the next member to launch a solo career. His debut album; Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version was released in March 1995, and is considered a hip-hop classic.[13]

Late summer, and early fall of 1995 saw the release of Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., and the GZA's Liquid Swords, which would turn out to be the group's two most significant and well-received solo projects. 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. The album is highly notable in that it revived, and expanded the Mafioso Rap genre, 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. 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 first debut from close Wu-Tang affiliate; Cappadonna. The album also featured rapper Nas, who was the first non-Wu-Tang-affiliated MC to appear on a Wu-Tang 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 The RZA experimenting more with keyboards than ever before. Liquid Swords features guest appearances from every Clan member, and is linked together by excerpts from the movie Shogun Assassin (which was also referenced in the movie Kill Bill, scored by the RZA). 95' also saw the release of the Wu Wear clothing line, which would turn out to be massively successful, and influential on hip-hop culture. It initially started as a mere way to make money from the demand for bootleg Wu-Tang 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.

Almost a year after the release of Liquid Swords, Ghostface Killah released his first solo album, Ironman in late October 1996. 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.[17] Although the 1994–1996 albums were released as solo, The RZA's presence behind the production, and the large number of guest appearances from other Clan members has rendered them to be mostly all-round group efforts.

Wu-Tang Forever and diversification

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. 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 O.D.B. who appeared on the intro and bridge), and no hook or a repeated phrase. The sound of the album built significantly on the previous three solo albums, with The 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. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album has sold over 8.3 million copies to date worldwide.

Wu-Tang Forever also marked the end of The RZA's "five year plan". After ...Forever's success, The 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 Oli "POWER" Grant and his brother Mitchell "Divine" Diggs. 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.

Following Wu-Tang Forever, the focus of the Wu-Tang empire largely shifted to the promoting of emerging affiliated artists (referred to by the fanbase as "Wu-Family"). The group's close associate Cappadonna followed the group project with March 1998's The Pillage. Soon after, Killah Priest (another close associate of the Clan), released Heavy Mental to great critical acclaim. Affiliated groups Sunz of Man (of which Killah Priest was a member) and Killarmy (which included The RZA's younger brother) 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. The Swarm sold well and was certified gold.[18]

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.

Second round of solo albums

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. In the space of two years, The 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). The 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. Wu-Tang branded clothing and video games were marketed as well. The Wu Wear clothing line (previously mentioned) in particular was massively influential, and successful.

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.[19] 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; however, the Wu was selling more albums than ever.

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 nineties.

Many fans and critics also bemoaned the lack of The 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.

The W, Iron Flag and New Millennium

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. Though incarcerated, ODB managed to make it onto the track "Conditioner" which featured Snoop Dogg. 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,[20] 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. The album would go on to reach double platinum status.

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. 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. 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.[21]

Iron Flag

In 2001, the 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. Wu member; Ghostface Killah would later denounce the record.

While originally featured on the cover of Iron Flag, Cappadonna was airbrushed out of the artwork and absent from the album entirely. 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[22]. Cappadonna would however, continue collaborating and touring with the group in the up-coming years.

Around this time Method Man began his acting career, along with close collaborator; Redman by starring in the stoner comedy film How High, which has become an underground classic over the years.

Third round of solo albums

RZA's release of Digital Bullet (as Bobby Digital) in 2001 marked the beginning of a small wave of solo releases in between The W and Iron Flag which also included Ghostface Killah's Bulletproof Wallets and Cappadonna's The Yin and the Yang. GZA's release of Legend of the Liquid Sword in late 2002 marked yet another wave that continued for the next two years. The wave also included Cappadonna's The Struggle, Method Man's Tical 0: The Prequel, Raekwon's The Lex Diamond Story, Ghostface Killah's The Pretty Toney Album, Inspectah Deck's The Movement, and Masta Killa's No Said Date. The Pretty Toney Album garnered decent reviews, but suffered claims that it was overtly commercial, especially driven by the Missy Elliott-featured single, "Tush"[23]. Raekwon's third album received similar criticism to its predecessor, Immobilarity; with no RZA tracks. Fans were generally indifferent, and the album still drew unfavorable contrast to his debut[24]. While Inspectah Deck's record was somewhat more well-received, it didn't catch on commercially outside of the core fanbase.

Masta Killa's album, however, was well received by both the hardcore fanbase and critics for its rather successful attempt to return to the classic Wu sound, and it became the highest-selling album released by its independent label, Nature Sounds Records[25]. No Said Date was amongst a rarity of later solo albums in that it featured the entire Clan over the course of the album, including three RZA productions. The album is also notable in that it feature's the last ever appearance of Ol' Dirty Bastard on the song "Old Man." Method Man's Tical 0 sold very well, despite negative reception from both critics and fans.[26]. Even Method Man himself went on to criticize the album, stating that the situation (management transition) going on at the time with Def Jam caused the poor outcome.[27]

Legal issues, death of ODB and resurgence

U-God dispute

In early 2004, U-God apparently left the group in disgust. A DVD titled Rise of a Fallen Soldier was released detailing his problems, which were mostly with his treatment by The RZA, who he claimed had hindered his success as a solo artist. He also formed a new group of young protegés called the Hillside Scramblers, with whom he released the album U-Godzilla Presents the Hillside Scramblers in March 2004. The dispute culminated in a heated phone conversation between The RZA and U-God on live radio, which ultimately saw the two reconcile. He has since returned to group and is heavily featured on solo albums, Wu albums, and projects.

Live and Best-Of albums

2004 saw the unexpected return of the Clan to the live stage. They embarked on a short European tour before coming together as a complete group for the first time in several years to headline the Rock the Bells IV festival in California. The concert was released on CD shortly afterwards under the name Disciples of the 36 Chambers: Chapter 1. At this time they also released a music-video greatest hits album named Legend of the Wu-Tang Clan.

Death of ODB

Ol' Dirty Bastard's career in Wu-Tang was marked by wild and criminal behavior. At the 1998 Grammy Awards, he protested the Clan's loss (in Best Rap Album) by interrupting Shawn Colvin's acceptance speech for her Song of the Year award. ODB was also arrested several times for a variety of offenses, including assault, shoplifting, wearing body armor after being convicted of a felony, and possession of cocaine.[28] He was also in trouble for missing multiple court dates. In late 2000, Ol' Dirty Bastard unexpectedly escaped near the end of his rehab sentence, spending one month on the run as a fugitive before showing up on stage at the record release party for The W in New York City. Ol' Dirty Bastard managed to escape the club but was later captured by police in a McDonald's parking lot in North Philadelphia and sent to New York to face charges of cocaine possession. In April 2001, he was sentenced to two to four years in prison.[29] Once released from prison, he signed a one million dollar contract with Roc-a-Fella Records.

On November 13, 2004, ODB collapsed at approximately 5:29 p.m. at Wu-Tang's recording studio, 36 Chambers on West 34th Street in New York City.[30] He was pronounced dead less than an hour later, just two days shy of his 36th birthday. His funeral service was held at Brooklyn's Christian Cultural Center.

ODB was scheduled to perform in a Wu-Tang reunion concert at Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey on the night of his death. The members were unaware, as was the audience at the concert, that he was dead; it was assumed that ODB was a no-show once more (he was notorious for arriving late, or not arriving at all in the past.) Wu-Tang has paid him homage on more than one occasion. 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. Also during a concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom the Clan brought his mother out on stage while the entire occupancy sang along to "Shimmy Shimmy Ya."

A posthumous official mixtape titled Osirus featuring many new songs was released in March 2005, while ODB's Roc-A-Fella album A Son Unique was originally scheduled for release in 2005, but encountered numerous delays. It was then scheduled for a release on November 7, 2006 to commemorate the second anniversary of his death, however this did not happen. It was released on November 7, 2009, to commemorate the 5th anniversary of ODB's death. It was distributed by the Dame Dash Music Group.

VH1 Hip Hop Honors

Moments before the Clan was set to perform at the 2006 Hip Hop Honors, things turned violent with an altercation involving Oli "Power" Grant and a former associate who was suing the group.

While initial reports stated that Nick Brown was along for the ride and got arrested for possession of cocaine, the group had issues with VH1's security staff, an actual confrontation took place between True Master and Power in a VIP area of the venue, said Power. "I ain't even gonna glorify that to no type of degree, but the bottom line was, yeah, you know there was a minor little altercation over there," Power said. "I see him and he's in the VIP on the strength of Wu-Tang so I kind of reacted, be it right or wrong...fuck!" The brief altercation between the two men resulted in a tense situation and ended with Power leaving the Hammerstein Ballroom. "I ain't even have to leave. I just stood there and talked for, like five or ten minutes. I made sure the rest of my people was able to stay because I told them, 'look if it was anything then let it be my problem. Let them go ahead and finish doing what they do.' I walked out the front, girls started taking some snapshots."[31] No charges have been pressed against Oli "Power" Grant or anyone else affiliated with the Clan in relation to this incident.

Fourth round of solo albums, 8 Diagrams

2005 saw the release of RZA's first book, The Wu-Tang Manual, the release of U-God's second album, Mr. Xcitement and the long-awaited collaboration between GZA and producer DJ Muggs, entitled GrandMasters. The collaborative record received good reviews and played fairly well with fans, who by and large had been waiting to see the Wu step up the quality of their releases.

On March 28, 2006, Ghostface Killah released the street rap-oriented Fishscale, to much critical acclaim and some commercial success.[32] The entire Clan, including Cappadonna and the deceased ODB, appeared on the track "9 Milli Bros." The album also offered an expansion of Ghostface's traditional sound—precipitated by the moderately-successful club song "Be Easy" and battle rhymes in the Just Blaze-produced "The Champ." After its reception from fans, label Def Jam asked Ghost to release another album that year; the result, More Fish, excited fans and critics somewhat less.

On June 25, 2006, Inspectah Deck released a street album entitled The Resident Patient, a prelude to his upcoming album, tentatively titled The Rebellion, which is said to be his final solo album.[33] Late summer of 2006 saw the release of Masta Killa's second studio album, Made in Brooklyn, to lukewarm reviews, as well as Method Man's 4:21... the Day After, on which the rapper endeavored to make up for the poor response to Tical 0: The Prequel. Around this time, he was heavily featured in the media due to his displeasure with Def Jam's handling of his previous project. Despite what the rapper felt to be little promotion compared to other Def Jam artists, 421... debuted in the Billboard Top Ten, and received much greater reviews than those of his previous album. Method Man also made the decision to fall back from Hollywood, and to only do acting work on films being handled by close friends.

The summer of 2007 was the original release date scheduled for Raekwon's long-anticpated sequel to his 1995 debut Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, entitled Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II. The album was to be released on Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records,[34] however, it would turn out to be released on Raekwon's Ice H2O Records, and EMI on September 8, 2009, after numerous delays.

Ghostface Killah released his seventh full length album The Big Doe Rehab in December 2007, and exactly one week later, Wu-Tang released their fifth full length group album enitled 8 Diagrams[35] on Steve Rifkind's SRC Records,[36] whose now-defunct Loud Records released the group's four previous albums. In an interview with MTV.com, Ghostface Killah stated that he was upset with RZA for starting the 8 Diagrams project while he was in the middle of writing and recording The Big Doe Rehab,[37] and further upset with RZA for giving 8 Diagrams the same release date as The Big Doe Rehab, for which RZA re-scheduled a release date one week later.[38] The final outcome of 8 Diagrams received mixed views from both fans and critics, and is regarded as being RZA's most experimental work to date.[39] Both Raekwon and Ghostface Killah were unhappy with the album, and proposed recording a group album titled "Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang" without RZA production.[40]

In the summer of 2008, the RZA released Digi Snacks, which was another Bobby Digital album. He used the album primarily to put over lesser-known Wu-Tang Clan affiliates such as Freemurder, Killa Sin, Black Knights and others. The summer of 2008 also the release of GZA's Pro Tools album.

Almost a year later, U-God released his third solo album entitled Dopium, which features guest appearances from several Wu-Tang members, and affiliates, among others, and was met with mostly lukewarm reviews. One week later, Wu-Tang Chamber Music, which is a side project, executively produced by RZA and features live instrumentation from a Brooklyn soul band called The Revelations. The album features appearances from five Wu-Tang members, along with New York City mainstays AZ, Kool G Rap, Cormega, Havoc, Sean Price, and M.O.P. The first single from Chamber Music was a track titled "Harbor Masters" featuring Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, and AZ.[41] To clear up confusion, RZA spoke about the album to Billboard.com:

I think the Chamber Music title is very fitting. This music is totally in the chamber, or in the mind-frame of Wu-Tang like in the [Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)] days. But it's not a Wu-Tang album. The whole Clan's not on this album. But it couldn't be in any other category but Wu-Tang.

—RZA, Billboard.com, June 25th, 2009[42]

September 2009 saw the release of the long anticipated album; Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II which features guest appearances from several big name artists, and Clan members, with Ghostface being the most prominent, and also production from RZA, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, and J Dilla, among others. The album debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200 and at number 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and has been praised by most music critics. Several weeks later, Ghostface released Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City, which is a hip-hop/R&B album.

Talk of the album Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang re-surfaced in July 2009[43]; originally planned as a full-on Wu album without RZA's input, the project evolved to include RZA from an MC standpoint, without contributing to production. Rakewon stated:

[It'll] be alter egos challenging each other, really allowing RZA to fall back on the production and allowing us to give him a flashback memory to the things we know we need from the abbot [RZA]. We want him to be involved [with the album as an MC], but the concept was for him not to be involved production-wise.

—Raekwon, MTV.com

Speaking to MTV.com, Method Man revealed his, Ghostface Killah's and Raekwon's plans to record a separate album as a trio:[44]

I don't want to say it's written in stone, but it's in discussion. I want some feedback from the fans to see how they would take that. RZA produced tracks, some other outside producers, of course, and we gonna have Wu-Tang members on the album, but it'll be a Rae, Ghost and Meth album.

—Method Man, MTV.com

Soon after, Ghostface Killah cemented the details: the record--featuring other Wu-Tang Clan members--will be comprised primarily of himself, Method Man and Raekwon; the title, as announced in three separate trailers (directed by Rik Cordero) promoting the upcoming release, is Wu-Massacre. Speaking on their willingness to complete the album, Ghost said the three would begin recording within the next few months and estimated the release date to be the end of 2009 or January 2010[45].

More recently, it was announced that the album would be pushed back from December to March 30, 2010[46]; the single, "Meth v.s. Chef Part II," was released after the announcement. Produced by Mathematics, it is an update of the song "Meth vs. Chef" from Method Man's first solo album, Tical, featuring verses by only Method Man and Raekwon. It has been confirmed by Raekwon that Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang will in fact be his next solo album[47] and that Wu-Massacre is a separate project, while the rapper stated that he himself had petitioned to have Wu-Massacre's release date postponed in order to yield more studio time[48].

While it is currently unclear whether RZA will be producing on Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, Raekwon has stated the album will come in 2010 and that the sound will represent the contrast between the traditional Wu-Tang mentality and Raekwon's Staten Island background:

It was [RZA's] philosophy. He picked certain dudes to be part of this group, and he said, “[Wu-Tang] is what it’s going to be called.” Before that, I was on the block. I was living in Shaolin. So this album just shows the street side of me, challenging the great side of Wu-Tang.

—Raekwon, RapRadar.com[49]

In terms of Wu-Massacre, Method Man recently charged Def Jam with rushing the project, while the trio revealed an updated tracklisting.[50]

Business deals

In September 2008, RZA announced that he had inked a deal with digital music company The Orchard to release the Wu-Tang Clan's back catalogue worldwide digitally, for the first time. In addition to forthcoming material, the Wu-Tang Clan's catalogue includes 13 previous releases that have been previously unavailable digitally, including recordings by the group as a whole, U-God, Wu-Syndicate, Killarmy, Shyheim, West Coast Killa Beez, Black Knights and others, and will be available online beginning September 23. "The time is right to bring some older Wu material to the masses digitally," said RZA, de-facto leader of Wu-Tang Clan. "Our fans have been dedicated and patient and they're hungry to hear the music that has set us apart from so many others. Hip-hop is alive in Wu Music, and with The Orchard, we've got a solid partner that understands our audience and is committed to doing all they can to help us reach the fans. I'm definitely looking forward to working with them to see what else we all come up with. There's much more to come." [51]

Documentaries

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.[52] 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.

Meanwhile, GZA will be releasing a tell-all Documentary named Wu Tang Saga, featuring footage of the Clan dating back to the early nineties. Release date for the documentary is Feb 25, 2010.[53]

Influence

Wu-Tang has influenced many current-day hip-hop acts in the areas of rapping, production technique, subject matter and image. Among these contributions have been RZA's sampling style, certain Clan members' mafioso rap personas, usage of slang terms, and the tendency of artists to run in tightly-knit groups.

Production

According to himself, RZA tries to have no more than 20–25% sampling on any given record, something starkly different from many other major hip hop groups. He uses "the sampler more like a painter's palette than a Xerox. Then again, I might use it as a Xerox if I find rare beats that nobody had in their crates yet." He played much of the piano himself, with Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk as major influences; for instance, he created the piano part to "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" after watching the Thelonious Monk documentary, Straight, No Chaser.[54]

RZA's production technique, specifically the manner of chopping up and/or speeding or slowing soul samples to fit his beats, has been picked up by currently popular producers, most notably Kanye West and Just Blaze, the two main producers behind Roc-A-Fella Records. West's own take on RZA's style[55] briefly flooded the rap market with what was dubbed "chipmunk soul," the pitch bending of a vocal sample to where it sounded as though the singer had inhaled helium. Several producers at the time copied the style, creating other offshoots. West has admitted that his style was distinctly influenced by the RZA's production,[56] and RZA has acknowledged his influence in an issue of Scratch magazine, saying he wished he had produced "Jesus Walks" and "Breathe", two 2004 hits produced by Kanye West and Just Blaze, respectively. Said by Kanye West:

Wu-Tang? Me and my friends talk about this all the time... We think Wu-Tang had one of the biggest impacts as far as a movement. From slang to style of dress, skits, the samples. Similar to the [production] style I use, RZA has been doing that.[57]

Lyrics

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. 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.

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."). The 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.

Image

Before the Wu-Tang Clan's debut in 1993, few popular rap music acts operated in groups, and at nine main members with several affiliates, the Wu was the largest around at that point; the only popular groups coming close to that size at the time were Public Enemy and the Death Row Records roster. Since that time, several collective-sized groups have gained popular status, including Dipset, the Dungeon Family, D12, and No Limit Records; though the Wu-Tang Clan may not have been directly responsible for the formation of these groups, they helped encourage popular acceptance of the idea. They were also among the first to start the trend in hip-hop of diversification; specifically with Power creating and pioneering the hip-hop clothing line Wu-Wear, which was later picked up by Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z and Puff Daddy, among others.

Syndication

Wu-Tang management

Oli "Power" Grant and RZA's brother Mitchell "Divine" Diggs are the controversial executives who have been handling the business side of the Wu Tang empire since 1997, and are responsible for large amounts of products such as the Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style video game and Wu Wear which were released in the late 90s and early 2000s. The two stay behind the scenes for the most part but do occasionally step into the public eye. Oli "Power" Grant is a childhood friend of several clan members.

Oliver "Power" Grant has also acted in numerous films including Belly, Black and White, When Will I Be Loved and others. He also won the 24th Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach, beating out seventeen other celebrity and professional drivers. "Power" was mentioned in Raekwon's lyrics in the street anthem "Incarcerated Scarfaces", saying "Peace to Power and the whole unit."

Mitchell "Divine" Diggs has been mentioned in several songs by Wu-Tang members, such as by RZA in his song "Brooklyn Babies" with "My big brother Divine he push the Benz well", and Raekwon in the song "The Turn" with "Divine got me, nigga, the boss, he pop me".

Method Man however has voiced his displeasure with Mitchell "Divine" Diggs of the Wu-Tang management, "Number 1 on my shit list right now is Divine from Wu-Tang management. He took something major from me that he had no intention of giving back."[58]

Collective appearances

Members of the group have appeared in several Comedy Central shows, most notably two appearances on Chappelle's Show. The first was in episode 107, in a sketch titled "Wu-Tang Financial," in which The RZA and GZA run an investment firm, lampooning the over-saturation of hip-hop endorsed brands (which Wu-Tang were guilty of at one point). The second appearance was in episode 201, in the sketch "Racial Draft 2004," in which the group is drafted to become ethnically Asian. Various members have also appeared in episodes of Upright Citizens Brigade and Crank Yankers. On the latter, they performed "In The Hood" in puppet form.

Several members appeared in Scary Movie 3 (with many other rappers) in a scene where, originally coming to save the day, they end up arguing with other rappers until guns are drawn and everyone shoots each other to death.

Several members, including Raekwon, Inspectah Deck and Method Man, appeared as themselves in the movie Black and White.

The RZA, Cappadonna and affiliate group Killarmy made an appearance in the "Adolf Hankler" episode of the HBO sitcom The Larry Sanders Show. In the episode, the group are booked to perform on the show-within-the-show by guest host Jon Stewart, who then comes into disagreement with the show's network over whether or not the Clan are "too urban" for the show's audience. In one of their two scenes, the group is seen rehearsing the song "And Justice For All" and in the other scene, they are awkwardly conversing with the show's sidekick character Hank Kingsley, who asks where 'Dirty Old Bitch' is.

In 2003, The RZA and GZA appeared in the Jim Jarmusch movie Coffee and Cigarettes, in the sketch "Delirium" with Bill Murray.

In late 2006, Wu-Tang was honored as one of the premier and influential rap groups by VH1's 2006 Hip Hop Honors with other influential performers: Afrika Bambaataa, Beastie Boys, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Lyte, Rakim and Russell Simmons.

The Clan (sans O.D.B.) performed "For Heaven's Sake" on The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show shortly after the release of "Wu-Tang Forever".

Method Man has appeared in the show Burn Notice as hip hop mogul and tough guy, Valentine.

RZA

The RZA in New York City to discuss The Tao of Wu.

In 1999, The RZA made a brief appearance in Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, a film he also scored. RZA starred with fellow rapper Xzibit in the movie Derailed.

RZA scored the first film of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill saga. RZA has gone on to score several more productions including Blade: Trinity, Afro Samurai, The Protector, Freedom Writers and several others.

RZA has appeared in American Gangster, a 2007 crime drama film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

RZA appeared as himself in a scene in Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes with GZA and Bill Murray

RZA also produced all of the music to a Japanese style cartoon Afro Samurai, which also featured other artists such as GZA (Also from Wu-Tang), Talib Kweli, Big Daddy Kane and Q-Tip.

RZA appears in the Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler film, Funny People.

RZA was interviewed on The Colbert Report on October 14, 2009 to promote his new book, "The Tao of Wu". The book was released the following day.

Method Man

Method Man has had recurring roles in critically acclaimed television shows such as HBO's The Wire in which he plays the character Cheese, HBO's Oz, The Twilight Zone,Third Watch, and the recurring character of Drops on CSI. He hosted a series on MTV for a brief period called Stung and has made numerous appearances as himself on TV shows such as Mind Of Mencia, Chappelle's Show, and others.

He also co-starred with Redman in his own Fox sitcom called Method & Red in late 2004; however, after only a short time on the air, the show was put on hiatus and never returned. Method Man later complained in the press about Fox's influence on the show's style, claiming that "there's been too much compromise on our side and not enough on their side" and bemoaning the network's decision to add a laugh track. Before the show even aired, he told fans not to bother watching it.

His first prominent role came in 1998 with the film Belly along with fellow rappers Nas and DMX. He has since added many credits to his name, including roles in the films Garden State and One Eight Seven, with starring roles in the feature films such as How High, Soul Plane and others. He also played a small role in the 1997 film "Cop Land" starring Sylvester Stallone. Method Man also stars in the 2008 film "The Wackness".

On March 27, 2007 Redman confirmed on BET Rapcity that the sequel to the movie How High is currently being written, by Dustin Lee Abraham, who also wrote the first movie.

He had a guest appearance in the music video for the 2003 "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys, where he played the role of her boyfriend. Beanie Sigel also called upon Method Man's acting skills for his 2005 video "Feel It in the Air", where Method Man played an undercover cop leading an operation against Sigel.

Method Man has fallen back from pursuing more acting roles after the situation with his sitcom on Fox left a bad taste in his mouth,[59] and now mostly just acts if the project is being handled by a friend of his, as was the case with CSI and The Wire.

The "torture" verbal exchange between Method Man and Raekwon the Chef, on the track "Method Man" on the Wu-Tang Clan's debut album was parodied on the "Hip-Hop News" sketch of Chappelle's show, during the "Lost Episodes"

Method Man appears in the film The Wackness as a Jamaican drug dealer and on "Burn Notice" as a record label CEO.

Raekwon

Raekwon was the focus of a VH1 "RockDoc" about blood diamonds, where he along with Paul Wall and others visited Sierra Leone, West Africa. During the shooting of the documentary, Raekwon became the first American rapper to perform in Sierra Leone. He is apparently working on a series of film scripts after mentioning venturing into Hollywood.[citation needed]

Ghostface Killah

Ghostface Killah doll.

Ghostface Killah released a doll in his likeness along with a series on daily habits and lifestyle for MTV called "The Pretty Toney series" into various short episodes. He also appeared in a sketch on the show Human Giant.

Video games

The Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style collector's edition controller.

All nine members of the group (excluding Cappadonna) were featured in the game Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style, released for the PlayStation on October 31, 1999, as well as a special collector's edition controller. Ghostface Killah and Yung Dirty Doucette, as well as collaborators Redman and Keith Murray, also play themselves in all three games in the Def Jam series, Def Jam Vendetta, Def Jam Fight For NY, and Def Jam: Icon. Method Man is a huge fan of video games himself and has publicly stated that he loves playing SOCOM online with other PS2 users, and is even part of an online clan ("KMA/Kiss My Ass"). His Socom 2 name is "ICU". He has a fellow SOCOM player featured on a skit on his album 4:21. Several tracks by Clan members and affiliates such as Method Man, Ghostface, Cappadonna, Trife, DJ Mathematics and others were featured in the 2006 game Saints Row. A video game from Acclaim, 9Dragons, also sports the name Wu-Tang Clan in one of the ingame branches. In EA's Army of Two, Salem talks about Wu-Tang in the mission on China asking Rios who the best member is. Salem says it's RZA but he says Ghostface Killah is pretty good himself. In the ending cut scene, a reference is made to the song "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing to F' Wit" when Salem says "Survey says?" and Rios replies "You're Dead," the referenced lyric is "Survey said, you're dead." RZA also recently produced the soundtrack for the game Afro Samurai, which is based on the cult TV series and was released in January 2009 for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, there have also been rumours circulating late September that the wu-tang clan will be contributing tracks to the next mortal kombat game but have yet to confirm these rumours.

Clothing line

Oli "Power" Grant, 37, was one of the first to move from music to clothes. The executive producer of the Wu-Tang Clan, Grant started making clothes in the early 1990s, with little success. ("I'm a black kid from the projects," he explains. "People didn't take it too seriously.") But then, in 1995, with the platinum success of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), suddenly the manufacturers that earlier wouldn't extend Power credit saw the potential. Power opened four Wu Wear stores, in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Norfolk, Va., the line is carried in Macy's, Rich's, and d.e.m.o, among others; Power says he did $10 million in 1998.[60]

1997 saw the release of Wu-Tang's multi-platinum double-LP Wu-Tang Forever which launched the clothing line, Wu-Wear, to all new heights.

Method Man was unhappy with the decision to bring Wu Tang into the fashion world with Wu Wear, despite the brand being a major money-maker for the group. "When Wu-Wear started making shoes and sneakers and pants, it was shoddy material. I never rocked that shit."[58]

There is currently a partnership between Wu Tang and the Alife NYC clothing group for an exclusive series of custom sneakers, t-shirts, hoodies and other accessories for both men and women. The collection is called "A Wu-Tang Life".

Nike released a Wu-Tang Clan dunk that is very rare and can be as much as 7,500 dollars.[30] Wu-Tang Forever

Controversy

G-Unit

Ghostface had a non publicized feud with 50 Cent in the late 1990s and early 2000s. On 50 Cent's track "How to Rob" insults were aimed at many high-profile rappers, including Wu-Tang. In the early 2000s the argument made it on to wax with skits titled "Clyde Smith" on Supreme Clientele featuring a low-pitched recording of what most fans believe to be Raekwon's voice derisively making fun of 50 Cent's behavior and his methods of attracting attention to himself. The skit also joked at other unnamed "gangster rappers" in New York. 50 Cent took offense and came back with a short track dissing Wu-Tang Clan, and Ghostface in particular.[61] 50 rose to fame, both he and Ghostface talked in interviews with SOHH.com and Hot 97 Radio about the supposed argument, both saying that the argument was never that serious and nothing major had happened.

A supposed diss song, "Small Change (Who The Fuck Is 50 Cent)", which circulated the web in the beginning of 2001 was rumoured to be by the Clan, but was proven to be recorded by Polite of American Cream Team (Raekwon's then side-project).

G-Unit member Tony Yayo has alleged that Ghostface had a ghostwriter for his critically-acclaimed album Supreme Clientele. In an interview with spin.com, Yayo claimed that Far Rockaway native Superb, who guested on the album, wrote a majority, if not all, of the lyrics.[62] In an interview with hiphopdx.com Raekwon, who also appears on the album, responded saying: "He (Tony Yayo) know damn well he (Superb) ain’t write that fuckin’ album. I don’t even wanna get into shit like that, because it just makes me upset that muthafuckas be running they mouth all kinda ways. But at the end of the day, I think Ghost gonna have to really say what he gotta say."[63] However, in a November, 2007 interview with Rhapsody Music, Ghost responded with "…'Perb (Superb) is Rae’s (Raekwon) man. He been in the studio a few times while we’re doing shit. He ain’t write shit. All ‘Perb contributed was a couple of lines that you could put in the air. When we write, we all do that. “Say this one right here” or “Put this one right here.” We all catch lines with each other ‘cause you in the studio. You got niggas around you that write. Even if he did write a verse, he could never make an album of mine. He couldn’t make an album, you feel me? I made Supreme Clientele what it is. Those are my stories, based around whatever they’re based upon. It’s me. I can’t see what songs ‘Perb wrote. He ain’t write “Mighty Healthy” or “One” or “Apollo Kids” or “Cherchez LaGhost” or “Saturday Nite” or “Malcolm.”".[64] U-God called Tony Yayo "a bitch" in an interview with Undergroundhiphop.com, and threatened to beat him down when he sees him, but said that no diss tracks will be recorded.[65] Paper Plates, one of the tracks from GZA's Pro Tools album released in 2008 is known to be a 50 cent diss track. The feud between GZA and 50 started in a concert in London, where GZA was performing and during the concert he was responding to what the crowd had to say about the current state of Hip Hop particularly in the Mainstream world. Soulja Boy and 50 cent were both mentioned. GZA made some comments such as, "Fifty doesn't have any motherfuckin' lyrics. You got a lot of record sales, a lot of money nigga but no TALENT!"

50 cent responded back to GZA on his thoughts about his comments directed at Soulja Boy, whom he has a good relationship with personally. "Recently I seen a video on YouTube and the video was of the GZA, that's short for The Genius. He's a 'Genius,' I'm sure everyone else has forgotten who he is also. Kid is 16 years old and we Googled you; you were born in '66. He was born in 1966 (laughs). Listen, I have an old school Chevy Impala your age." 50 has yet to record a diss track in response to GZA's "Paper Plate."

The Notorious B.I.G.

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 following 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.) 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. According to Method Man, though even at this point friction was present between Biggie and the Clan, the two rappers got along:

It was no secret: Rae didn’t like him, Ghost didn’t like him. They thought he was a biter. But if you look at Rae and Ghost, they don’t like nobody! The rest of my niggas had love for Big. It was just Rae and Ghost...and my niggas—-it’s like we’re a unit, we moved as a unit. So where if one of my niggas ain’t speakin’, then nobody was speakin’. And we would just roll right by [B.I.G.], walk right past. But Lil’ Cease can vouch for this, and my niggas can vouch for this—-I always stopped to give word with Big. No matter what. There was a show...and he had performed, and Wu-Tang had performed that night...outside the club Big approached me and shit. Like, “Yo, I wanna do something with you on my album.”

—Method Man, XXL, The Making of Ready to Die[66]

In 1995, on the album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., Raekwon and Ghostface Killah commented on Big in a skit called "Shark Niggas (Biters)." Alleging that he copied the cover from Nas' landmark release Illmatic, as well as styles from other rap artists. This generated longstanding controversy over their differences with Biggie, and in later interviews, both rappers would downplay the incident:

It was one of them skits where we was looking at our competition. And when Ghost is saying whatever he was saying, we kinda knew who he was talking about, but it wasn't like we was trying to start a beef. It's just sometimes, when you get in the booth and you start saying what you wanna say, it just happened.

—Raekwon, XXL, The Making of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...[67]

God bless the dead, I love B.I.G. He's a fucking icon. Even when I seen him out in Cali, I wanted to tell son, yo, let's go ahead and make this record together because I matured through the years, and at the same time, I recognized good music. We shook hands on some peace shit, but that was all, cause they was on their way to leaving out. A day or two later, niggas [killed him].

—Ghostface Killah, XXL, The Making of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...[67]

In the Wu-Tang Manual, a book by the RZA on the origins of the Wu-Tang Clan, he recalls a concert at which Biggie and Wu-Tang both performed, at which Raekwon and Ghostface were reportedly under the influence, and angry at some comments BIG made in The Source. In RZA's view, had the artists and their entourages met up that night, things could have gotten violent, but nothing of the sort ever occurred. It is worth mentioning that on B.I.G.'s final studio album Life After Death he took a shot back at Raekwon on the song "Kick in the Door" (which was a diss song to several other rappers as well) with the line; "Fuck that, why try/Throw bleach in ya eye" which was a response to lyrics from Raekwon's song "Ice Water", where Raekwon rhymed; "...To top it all off, beefin' for White/Pullin' bleach out, tryin'a throw it in my eyesight." On the posthumous 1997 song "Victory," released on Puff Daddy's album No Way Out, B.I.G. also rhymes, "Militant/Y'all faggots ain't killin' shit," in response to a Ghostface Killah line on the song "Criminology" where he raps; "RZA baked the track and it's militant/Then I react like a convict, and start killin' shit." It is also worth mentioning that B.I.G. chose RZA to produce the track "Long Kiss Goodnight", a song aimed at Biggie's long time rival Tupac Shakur, which appeared on Life After Death. RZA went on to comment about the collaboration, saying,

Biggie was always pretty cool with me. He liked the Wu-Tang sound. He requested me to be on the album. I didn’t know if everybody in his camp agreed with it...but we was always cool with each other...at the end he’s talking about everybody was fucking with them at that time. He could have even been talking about me [laughs], ’cause there was some cuts at Biggie on the Cuban Linx… album.

—RZA, XXL, The Making of Life After Death[68]

On the same album, B.I.G. gave thanks to Wu-Tang in the album's liner notes, and also inserted lyrics praising the Wu-Tang Clan single "C.R.E.A.M."; on the song "Notorious Thugs," he states, "I'mma tell you like a nigga told me/Cash rules everything around me." On his 2002 album God's Son, Nas references the feud on his song "Last Real Nigga Alive," inferring that although he and Big had their differences, they were friendly; while he was also on good terms with Raekwon, neither Big nor Raekwon got along, and both warned Nas the other would copy his lyrics and style. In 2006, Ghostface and Raekwon did a posthumous collaboration with Biggie, on the song "Three Bricks," which was originally intended to appear on the posthumous Biggie album, Duets: The Final Chapter, but it instead became a bonus song on the Ghostface Killah album Fishscale. In 2008, Raekwon did a cover of Jadakiss' hit "Letter to B.I.G.," injecting his own thoughts on his deceased former rival.

Sean Combs

In 1998, ODB rushed onstage unexpectedly during Shawn Colvin's acceptance speech for "Song of the Year" at the Grammy Awards, and began complaining that he had recently purchased expensive clothes in anticipation of winning the "Best Rap Album" award that he lost to Sean Combs. Before being escorted off-stage, he implored the audience, "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. Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best. I want you all to know that this is ODB, and I love you all. Peace!" His bizarre onstage antics were widely reported in the mainstream media.[citation needed] Dirty made it known on The Howard Stern Show that he meant no disrespect to Combs, but that feelings were hurt on Combs' end. Later that night Combs' bodyguards would physically threaten ODB, but Dirty insisted to his friends and family in attendance that no violence breaks out. Following the award show, Howard Stern asked Dirty about the incident with Diddy's bodyguards on his radio show, but Dirty wouldn't play up the incident as he didn't want to shine a bad light on hip hop because of one minor altercation.[69]

Ghostface appeared on the 2002 Bad Boy Records release, We Invented the Remix, along with Combs on the remix to the song "Special Delivery." Ghostface even gives Bad Boy Records a shout out for inviting him on the track when he raps "Bad Boy, thank you for this special delivery." Combs was one of the executive producers for Method Man's 2004 album Tical 0: The Prequel, although Meth later voiced his displeasure with the final product. "On the third LP, it was suggested to bring in Harve Pierre and P Diddy. Who am I to argue? Puff knows how to sell some records. But that wasn't the direction to go in, and I know that now."[70] In 2006, Method Man also called out Combs' decisions on the posthumous Notorious B.I.G. album Duets: The Final Chapter, saying that Biggie never would have rocked with some of the sub-par rappers featured on it.[citation needed] He also brought up the fact that he was the only other rapper that Biggie chose to feature on his debut album Ready to Die.

Mase

After badmouthing Wu-Tang at a concert, Bad Boy recording artist Mase had a run-in with Ghostface and his entourage at a club in New York City. There was some sort of physical altercation between Mase's and Ghostface's camps, and Mase left the incident with a broken jaw. Kanye West is among several rappers who have made reference to the incident, rapping "...if you could feel how my face felt/ You would know how Mase felt..." on his single "Through the Wire". Shyheim also referred to the incident in a freestyle, with the line "The Empire State, where Ghostface retired Mase". In the June 2007 issue of Hip Hop Connection magazine, Wu-Tang affiliate Cilvaringz stated that Ghostface had in fact done time in jail for "beating up" Mase.

Joe Budden

In 2009, Joe Budden posted a video blog voicing his opinion on a "Best rapper" readers' poll posted in Vibe magazine. Throughout the video, Budden gave examples of rappers who were ranked too high, and claimed to be better than half of the rappers on the list. Some of the people he mentioned were Melle Mel, Prodigy, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and Method Man. At the end of the video, he went on to say that he'd beat Method Man in a battle if they were face to face. Shortly after this, Budden called into Ed Lover's Power 105.1, and took his claim even further by stating, "Lyrically, I will cut that man's head off his shoulders" (referring to Method Man). Several weeks later, Budden did a freestyle track which many speculated contained subliminal shots towards Method Man and several members of Wu-Tang (the track is called "D.O.A Freestyle"). Method Man was overseas while all of this occurred, but eventually spoke out about it on several radio interviews and freestyles. While Raekwon was on the Rock the Bells tour with Slaughterhouse (which is Budden's group) the two got together to settle any bad blood. This calmed things down for a short while, until Wu-Tang member Inspectah Deck released a Joe Budden diss track entitled "House Nigga" which was a response to Budden's remarks. A few days after releasing his diss track, on July 9, 2009, Deck went on stage at the Columbia, MD show of Rock the Bells, during Raekwon's set, and told the audience the reason for the diss track was because "the nigga tried to diss my brother, he tried to shit on my nigga like my nigga aint a made man ... fuck Joe Budden" (referring to what Budden said about Method Man). Joe Budden immediately posted a five-minute video blog in which he said that he wanted to slap Deck and called Deck a coward. At the San Bernardino stop of Rock the Bells, Raekwon approached Budden with his Ice Water Inc. entourage, resulting in Budden getting punched in the right eye. Shortly after this occurred, Joe Budden posted yet another online video blog of him with an ice pack over his eye, confirming that he's doing alright, and that it was Raekwon who threw the punch. Later though, it was discovered that it was in fact one of the members of Ice Water who punched him. Though the two reporterdly were sat down and forced to hash it out on the final day of the tour, Budden released a video on his website challenging Raekwon to a one-on-one fight, and called on all his fans to help persuade Raekwon to accept. Raekwon however did not accept, and stating that he is a grown man with a family, and that fighting would be childish.[71] Since the incident, Budden has stated in interviews the feud was over,[72] and Raekwon made a similar announcement during a recent show, stating that he "had love" for Joe Budden.[71]

Wu-Tang affiliates

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-New York-based artists, including Redman, Mobb Deep, Erick Sermon, Nas, Pete Rock, and others. 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.

Killa Beez

The association of these artists with Wu-Tang varies greatly. They include a plethora of solo artists and groups, both past and present. Many on this list are virtually unknown, while many are already successful musicians in their own right. Generally, the most acclaimed Wu-Tang affiliates are the ones with the closest actual ties to members of the group.

Easy Mo Bee

In the late '80's, future Wu-Tang Clan co-founders RZA and GZA were signed under different monikers to Cold Chillin' Records, the label home of Big Daddy Kane and Kool G. Rap, among others. During their tenure, producer Easy Mo Bee provided RZA (under the name Prince Rakeem) with his first hit single, "Ooh I Love You Rakeem," and produced much of GZA's (under the alias The Genius) true first album, Words From the Genius. Around this time, according to the Wu-Tang Manual, RZA accredits Easy Mo Bee with mentoring him and providing equipment for RZA to continue practicing beatmaking.[73]

In 1994, after linking up with Bad Boy Entertainment, Mo Bee began producing a fair share of Ready to Die, The Notorious B.I.G.'s debut album. The only rap feature on the album was Method Man, who appeared on the Easy Mo Bee-produced "The What." 1998 saw the producer produce for RZA once again, on the Ras Kass song "The End," and Wu-Tang member Raekwon was featured on Easy's solo album, Odyssey 2000: Now or Never alongside Busta Rhymes on the song "Let's Make a Toast." Seven years later, Mo Bee would go on to co-produce alongside RZA on the group's fifth group album, 8 Diagrams.

Nas

In 1995, New York rapper Nas became the first artist with no previous ties to the Wu-Tang to be featured on any Wu-Tang album—namely, Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.... Following this appearance, Nas and Raekwon began to collaborate more often, frequently being featured on the same songs. That same year, Nas and Raekwon appearaed on Mobb Deep's The Infamous, on the track "Eye For An Eye;" in 1998, they appeared on the Fat Joe single "John Blaze," alongside Big Pun and Jadakiss. During the same time period, Nas and Method Man co-starred in the film Belly, and collaborated on its soundtrack. Nas was later featured on the Wu-Tang Clan album The W, on the song "Let My Niggas Live," which also featured Raekwon, as well as Inspectah Deck. In 2009, before the release of his anticipated Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, Raekwon stated that Nas was intended to be present on the album, but Nas was never able to find time to record[74].

Mobb Deep

In 1995, the same year that Raekwon's debut came out, the Wu-Tang rapper appeared on Mobb Deep's seminal The Infamous; aside from "Eye For An Eye," he and Ghostface Killah appeared on the track "Right Back At You." A year later, Method Man and Raekwon made appearances on separate tracks on the duo's followup album, Hell on Earth. In 1998, Mobb Deep member Prodigy was featured on "The Game," a song from Pete Rock's solo debut Soul Survivor, once again alongside Ghostface Killah and Raekwon. The same year, Prodigy made an appearance on Big Pun's debut album Capital Punishment, on the song "Tres Leches (Triboro Trilogy)," also featuring Inspectah Deck as well as produced by RZA. Furthermore, Prodigy and Method Man collaborated on the soundtrack to Bulworth, on the DJ Muggs-produced song "Bulworth," which also featured KRS-One and Kam.

In 1998, Mobb Deep appeared on Method Man's sophomore album, Tical 2000: Judgement Day, on the song "Play IV Keeps," which was produced by Mobb Deep producer Havoc. Havoc also appeared on Raekwon's 2003 album, The Lex Diamond Story, on the song "King of Kings," and in 2006 he produced the song "Somebody Done Fucked Up Now" for Method Man's album 4:21... The Day After. More recently Havoc collaborated with the Wu on J. Dilla's posthumous single "24K Rap" alongside Raekwon, and "Evil Deeds" from the Wu-Tang Clan compilation album Chamber Music.

Redman & Erick Sermon

Both Wu-Tang rapper Method Man and Def Squad member/EPMD protege Redman were signed to Def Jam Records in 1994; their first recorded collaboration was "Double Deuces," a commercial recorded for St. Ides malt liquor. Both were also featured on "Got My Mind Made Up," a 2Pac song from his Death Row Records album All Eyez on Me. The collaboration led to a hit single, "How High," and Method Man and Redman would make guest appearances on every subsequent album either of them have put out thus far in their careers, including the Erick Sermon-produced "Whateva Man," a single from Redman's 1996 album Muddy Waters. In addition the duo has made many guest appearances together, including LL Cool J's 1997 hit "4, 3, 2, 1," produced by Erick Sermon and 1999's "Rap Phenomenon," on the posthumous Notorious B.I.G. album Born Again.

In 1998, Method Man released his sophomore album, Tical 2000: Judgement Day, which sported two tracks produced by Sermon, on one of which Redman guested. A year later, Redman and Method Man released Blackout!, a collaboration album that featured production from Erick Sermon, RZA, and Wu-Elements producers 4th Disciple and True Master. In 2000, Redman appeared on the Wu-Tang Clan's third group album, The W, on the song "Redbull" alongside Method Man and Inspectah Deck; he also appeared on Ghostface Killah's second album, Supreme Clientele, alongside Ghostface, Method Man and Cappadonna. In the late 90's to the early-to-mid 2000's, Redman and Method Man made several appearances in film and television together, including the comedies "How High" and "Soul Plane", and the short-lived sitcom Method & Red.

Sermon made a return to Method Man's music with 2006's 4:21... The Day After, for which the producer served as co-executive producer alongside RZA and Method Man himself, producing or co-producing four tracks. The producer also worked on rapper Busta Rhymes' Aftermath Entertainment album The Big Bang, co-producing the song "Goldmine" with Dr. Dre, a song featuring the Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon. This collaboration culminated in Sermon producing the song "Baggin' Crack" on Raekwon's 2009 album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, as well as two songs on Blackout! 2, Method Man & Redman's followup to the 1999 record.

Pete Rock

Like Easy Mo Bee, New York producer Pete Rock first began his association with the Wu-Tang before it was formally founded—by playing mentor to RZA, then under the moniker Prince Rakeem. In the book "The Wu-Tang Manual," RZA admits to effectively stealing equipment from the successful producer, borrowing and never returning an MPC[75]. Pete first produced for the Wu-Tang when its members Ghostface Killah, Raekwon and Method Man made appearances on his 1998 album Soul Survivor. The following year, the producer provided a beat for Raekwon's sophomore album Immobilarity, and Wu members RZA and GZA appeared on Pete's 2004 followup solo album Soul Survivor II. Since then the frequency of Pete Rock's collaborations with the Wu-Tang have increased, as he provided production for Ghostface Killah's two 2006 solo albums, Fishscale and More Fish; Masta Killa's 2006 sophomore album Made in Brooklyn; the Raekwon- and Masta Killa-featuring song "PJ's" from his own third solo album, NY's Finest; the single "A Yo" from Method Man & Redman's Blackout! 2; and the song "Sonny's Missing," from Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... pt. II.

The L.O.X.

Jadakiss, one-third of Yonkers, New York-based group the L.O.X., first collaborated with a member of the Wu-Tang Clan in 1998 on the single "John Blaze" with Raekwon. While the collaboration led to associations with Nas and Fat Joe as well, Jada's group began to collaborate with the Wu-Tang on a more regular basis. L.O.X. member Sheek Louch appeared on Raekwon's third album The Lex Diamond Story in 2003; in 2004, Jadakiss appeared on "Run," the RZA-produced hit single from Ghostface Killah's The Pretty Toney Album. The following year Ghostface appeared on Louch's 2005 album, After Taxes; in 2006, Sheek made a return appearance on Ghostface's Fishscale, and Raekwon appeared alongside Jadakiss and others on Hi-Tek's album Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip, on the song "Where it Started At." Ghostface Killah appeared on L.O.X. member Styles P's 2007 album, Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman), and Styles was set to appear on Ghostface's Big Doe Rehab, having recorded a version of the song "Tony Sigel A.K.A. Barrel Brothers" with Styles.

In 2009, Jadakiss featured Raekwon and Ghostface Killah on his album The Last Kiss, on the single "Cartel Gathering", and Raekwon featured Jadakiss and Styles P on his album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II. Inspectah Deck has also stated that he intends to reach out to Jadakiss to appear on his next and final album, The Rebellion[76]. Sheek Louch and new D-Block addition Bully are also slated to appear on Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon's upcoming album, Wu-Massacre.

Busta Rhymes

New York rapper Busta Rhymes first collaborated with the Wu-Tang Clan on the 1996 soundtrack to "Space Jam," when he and Method Man appeared on the song "Hit 'Em High." 2000 witnessed Ghostface Killah and Raekwon appear on Busta's album Anarchy, on the song "The Heist;" Busta also appeared with Raekwon on Easy Mo Bee's solo album, Odyssey 2000: Now or Never, and guested on The W on the song "The Monument." Busta would later appear on Method Man's album Tical 0: The Prequel, assisting on the hit single "What's Happenin'," while convincing Raekwon to record his sequel to the critically-acclaimed 1995 album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Serving in an executive producer capacity, Busta helped Raekwon assemble Cuban Linx II and provided the rapper with a link to Aftermath producer Dr. Dre. Raekwon appeared on Busta's 2006 album The Big Bang, on the Dr. Dre/Erick Sermon-produced song "Goldmine," and Busta made a return appearance on the Dr. Dre-produced "About Me" from 2009's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II.

AZ

AZ began his career as an affiliate of Nas, but over time has strengthened his ties with other artists, including the Wu-Tang Clan. The Brooklyn rapper first recorded with the Wu in 1996, when Raekwon joined him for a RZA-produced remix of his first single, "Doe or Die."[77] In '98, the rapper linked up with RZA again on the album Pieces of a Man, with the RZA-produced song "Whatever Happened (The Birth)." 2005 brought another collaboration; on his album AWOL, AZ featured Raekwon and Ghostface Killah on his single "New York." In '09, AZ was featured on the Wu-Tang compilation album Chamber Music, and is set to appear alongside Raekwon and Ghostface again in 2010 on DJ Kay Slay's album More Than a DJ.[78]

Kool G Rap

Kool G Rap began appearing with the Wu-Tang starting in 1997, on the single "Cakes," produced by and featuring RZA for the soundtrack to Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. In 2003, G Rap appeared on Inspectah Deck's album The Movement, on the song "Framed;" he went on to make appearances on the Ghostface Killah/Trife da God joint album Put it on the Line, RZA's Afro Samurai: Resurrection soundtrack, and the Wu-Tang's Chamber Music. Recently, it has been announced that Raekwon and G Rap are recording a collaboration album together[79].

DJ Muggs

West coast producer and Cypress Hill co-founder DJ Muggs began collaborating with the Wu-Tang in 1995, when RZA produced and he and U-God appeared on the Cypress Hill song "Killa Hill Niggas," from the album III: Temples of Boom. In 1997, Muggs produced the Method Man/Prodigy collaboration, "Bulworth." In addition, RZA and GZA appeared on his album Soul Assassins I, and GZA appeared on the 2000 followup, Soul Assassins II. In return, Muggs produced a song on GZA's 2002 album Legend of the Liquid Sword. The partnership led to Muggs and GZA recording the 2005 joint album Grandmasters (billed as DJ Muggs vs. GZA, the first in a series of "DJ Muggs vs." albums), released to some critical acclaim. 2005 also saw Muggs produce the song "Black Opera" for Skillz, which featured Raekwon. Additionally, GZA appeared on the DJ Muggs-produced Planet Asia album, Pain Language in 2008. In 2009, Raekwon spoke about recording new material with DJ Muggs, presumably for his album Cuban Linx II[80], although no new collaborations have surfaced.

MF Doom

The underground rapper/producer MF Doom's first collaboration with the Wu-Tang Clan was in 2005, when he appeared with the RZA on "Biochemical Equation" (which RZA also produced), from the compilation album Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture. When Doom anonymously submitted a beat tape for Ghostface Killah, several of his tracks made the cut for Ghostface's 2006 albums Fishscale and More Fish, including the song "9 Milli Bros.," which featured the Wu-Tang Clan in its entirety. Doom also provided production for Masta Killa's 2006 album Made in Brooklyn. An album-long collaboration with Ghostface Killah was rumored for several years, and various songs leaked that reportedly were recorded for the project, which was to be entitled either Ghostface Meets Metalface or Swift & Changeable. The project has not yet surfaced, but in July 2009 Ghostface reported having recorded his parts for the record and said he was simply waiting for Doom to finish his parts[81]. Since then, several new collaborations by the two have surfaced, including "Chinatown Wars" (from the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars), "Angeles," "The Mask," and the J. Dilla-produced "Sniper Elite" and "Murder Goons."

Other artists

Ghostface Killah's Fishscale also boasted work by underground sensation and Detroit, Michigan producer J. Dilla, who passed away shortly after. However, just as the producer's music has continued to surface in other artists' projects, several productions Dilla created for Raekwon made the final cut of the rapper's 2009 album. The year 2009 witnessed the release of the long-delayed, highly-anticipated Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II. The album made heavy use of longtime and short-term Wu-Tang associates, featuring frequent collaborators Pete Rock, Erick Sermon and Busta Rhymes while cementing the associate status of newer associates: namely, Beanie Sigel, J. Dilla, The Alchemist and Dr. Dre, all of whom have worked—in a limited capacity—with the Wu-Tang Clan previously.

As of 2010, the number of Wu-Tang affiliates has grown by three: Capone-N-Noreaga, a rap duo based out of Queens, New York City, signed with Raekwon's IceH20 Records on February 18, 2010 and has listed the Wu-Tang rapper as executive producer of their next album, The War Report 2[82]. In addition, Masta Killa's next album is slated to feature production by PF Cuttin'[83].

Members

  • Cappadonna (born Darryl Hill, 1969) - After growing up as friends with many the Clan members, Cappadonna made his debut as an affiliate of the Wu-Tang Clan on Raekwon's hit single "Ice Cream". He was also a guest star, along with Raekwon, on Ghostface Killah's solo debut album, Ironman. He made his first appearance on a Wu-Tang Clan album in 1997 on Wu-Tang Forever on the single "Triumph". Following his appearance on Forever, he contributed significantly to the group's third studio album, The W, at which point his appearances were no longer marked with "Feat. Cappadonna", as they had been on Forever. After a falling out with RZA the next year over royalties, he did not appear at all on the group's subsequent album Iron Flag. He eventually reunited with the group for their concert at 2004's Rock the Bells, and appeared on 2007's 8 Diagrams.
    • Cappadonna's current status as an official member is unclear. While long referred to by both the group and fans as the "Unofficial Tenth Member", there is no confirmation on whether he actually became the official tenth member following the death of Ol' Dirty Bastard. While MTV.com's biographies of both him and the group claim that he is an official member,[2] their subsequent bio's on the group's official website do not list him as such.[84][85]. Also, while his vocals on 8 Diagrams were not marked with "Feat. Cappadonna", much like The W, he does not appear on the front cover with the original eight living members, and is not featured in the album's booklet with a picture, although he is included in the group's shout-out's sections. A 2007 interview about the Clan before the release of 8 Diagrams also claims that RZA officially added him as a member, but there are no quotations or statements to back up this claim within the article.[1] There have not been any official announcements by any of the group members regarding this since his return to the group in 2004
  • Ghostface Killah (born Dennis Coles, 1970) - He has a very distinctive, abstract style of rapping and is arguably the most consistent member of the group, having released his debut album Ironman to critical acclaim, he also played a big role on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…. Mainstream hip-hop press credits his second album Supreme Clientele with "saving the Wu", and later enjoyed similar success with Fishscale.
  • GZA (born Gary Grice, 1966) - He is the oldest member of the group as well as the most experienced, having begun rapping in 1976, when hip hop was still a local New York phenomenon.[86] He was also the first to release an album, Words from the Genius, which was released in 1991 on Cold Chillin'/Reprise. He is known for his laid-back flow and complex use of metaphor, containing references to Samurai films, chess and 5 Percenter teachings. Liquid Swords, his Wu-Tang debut album, is often considered among the group's best work, perhaps only challenged by Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx....
  • Inspectah Deck (born Jason Hunter, 1970) - He was one of the star members of the group, gaining attention by providing stand-out performances on both Wu-Tang albums and on other member's solo albums as well as being a popular guest rapper in 1997 and 1998. He is considered by many in the fanbase as the stand-out member on Wu-Tang Forever, although his later solo albums failed to live up to the high expectations. Inspectah Deck is known for his ability to deliver complicated rhyme-schemes and switching up his flow multiple times throughout the verse on any given song. He is also a successful producer, providing beats for many artists both in and out of the Wu-Tang family such as Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Big Pun, Prodigy and others.
  • Masta Killa (born Elgin Turner, 1969) - He was the only member not already an experienced rapper at the time of the group's formation, and was extensively mentored by GZA during his early days with the group. He was largely absent on the group's first album due to his being incarcerated (though he did contribute the classic final verse to the track "Da Mystery of Chessboxin"), but contributed stand-out verses to Wu-Tang Forever and other members solo albums, with fans praising his work on classic Wu tracks like "Duel of The Iron Mic", "Snakes" or "Winter Warz" among others. He was also the last to release a solo album, though when he finally did release No Said Date, it was generally well received and considered one of the best post-2000 Wu-Tang releases.[87]
  • Method Man (born Clifford Smith, 1971) - He was the youngest member of the Wu-Tang Clan and the first to release a Wu-Tang solo album with Tical, his career went on to become the most successful in the group, while maintaining an underground rep. His career is highlighted by platinum sales and a Grammy for I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need with Mary J. Blige. He is recognized by his distinct voice and smooth flow. He has also had a significant acting career with many film and television credits to his name, most notably the popular series, The Wire, where he portrayed the character of Cheese Wagstaff, the lieutenant of drug lord Proposition Joe. He also acted in the comedy film How High and the sitcom Method & Red, both co-starring with Redman, with whom he also made an album in 1999 titled Blackout! as well as the 2009 sequel Blackout! 2. Method Man's friendship with the Notorious B.I.G. is credited for preventing more heat between Biggie, Raekwon and Ghostface.[88]
  • Ol' Dirty Bastard (born Russell Jones, 1968–2004) - Arguably the most eccentric and erratic member of the group, his wild behavior drew significant media – and often police – attention. Along with Method Man, he was among the most popular members of Wu-Tang with high sales and guest spots with industry giants like Mariah Carey. He collapsed in Wu-Tang's recording studio on November 13, 2004 and was pronounced dead less than an hour later, with a later autopsy confirming an accidental drug overdose to be the cause of his death.
  • Raekwon (born Corey Woods, 1970) - Nicknamed "The Chef" for having "lyrical flavor", as well as his skills at 'cooking' cocaine into crack rock, his lyrics contain extensive use of New York slang and are often delivered in an aggressive, fast-paced manner. His influential solo album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... is often credited with initiating the Mafioso rap phenomenon of the mid-to-late-1990s, and is generally considered one of the best of the solo albums by both fans and critics. The sequel to the influential album was released in late 2009 titled Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II.
  • RZA (born Robert Diggs, 1969) - The de facto leader of the group. He produced the entirety of Enter the Wu-Tang and the majority of the tracks on subsequent Wu-Tang albums. He has also produced many of the group's solo efforts, especially early on. Considered a producing pioneer, recently his popularity has transcended hip-hop. Thanks to Jim Jarmusch giving him his break with Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, he has gone on to score several Hollywood films such as the first installment of Quentin Tarantino's critically acclaimed Kill Bill, Tony Jaa 's The Protector and Ridley Scott's American Gangster. Most recently he scored the music for the anime series Afro Samurai. Before signing with SRC Records in early 2007, RZA was flooded with offers from Bad Boy Records, Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope and Def Jam among others.[89] Rza is currently working with Shavo of System of a Down on an album titled "Achozen" still with an impending release date. The first single is "Dueces".
  • U-God (born Lamont Hawkins, 1970) - One of the lesser members of Wu-Tang, in part due to his limited exposure, from being incarcerated for most of the recording of 36 Chambers, in which he only delivered short verses on "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" and "Protect Ya Neck." He is known for delivering strong verses, his unique "bass-like" voice, and his style of blaxploitation rap.

Discography

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