As much as I like the following groups: N.W.A, Public Enemy, and Run DMC, I think MTV fucked up royally by placing the Wu-Tang Clan at the fifth seed in their 2007 “The Greatest Hip-Hop Groups of All Time” List. My bias will be very apparent in the post, but without the verbal intercourse styling of The Wu, I may have pursued a different career path. Throughout high school, a few peers of mine, and myself included, counted on The Wu to pull us through countless and boring high-school assignments, everything ranging from essays, readings, and overall bullshit that anyone who has the fortune of making to eighteen is probably already accustomed to.
The Wu Tang, led by the production guru/mastermind RZA, burst on to the music scene in 1993, with their album, 36 Chambers. Before that album, the GZA achieved mild success with his major label solo debut. I cannot give full and due credits to the entire Wu-Tang squad in the time I have to pen this post, but I cannot stress how masterful the following musical masterpieces are: Liquid Swords, 36 Chambers, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Ironman, Supreme Clientele, Tical, and a host of others I am forgetting in the hum and rush of the day.
In 1997, after gaining a steady following in New York City with the aforementioned group album, 36 Chambers, the Wu expanded their business and musical horizons, launching the unfortunately short-lived Wu Wear, and witnessing many of their solo artists work with producers other than RZA, and in the case of a few, such as Raekwon, the results were staggeringly mediocre (although he recovered beautifully with the second installment of the OB4CBL series.)
But the Wu has never shied away failure, various persons associated attempting, often unsuccessfully, to launch the careers of a few affiliates and Wu Tang Killa Bees. The greatest loss of the Wu however, was the death of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who was a crucial member of the Wu, not for his lyricism, but for being the quintessential representation of the whole raw attitude that Wu Tang so effortlessly displayed in their music as well as videos.
This post, however, is not an attempt to summarize the long, legendary, and storied history of the Wu, because that is what Wikipedia is for, but instead, I merely want to bring spotlight on the fact that despite a book detailing all of the codes of the Shaolin, the Wu have never been recognized, it seems, in the popular music world as a band ingeniously capable of longevity, quality, and quantity. I do not wish to diss the other bands that ranked higher than the Wu on this list, as I am huge fans of them all, (and let me say it is quite a shame that Tribe only got 6 on this list, but that is another blog post set for another day) but the Wu deserves to be recognized not only as one of hip hop’s elite bands, but as one of the most brilliant musical acts of the 20th/21st centuries respectively. When one takes a look at all their achievements, coupling them with them story of nine underground emcees from around New York, who sat around an apartment room and created the sounds that adults and teenagers still bump to this day, one needs not to read this post to recognize that the Wu possibly deserve to be a little higher up on this list.