Thursday, February 11, 2010
The 3 Chambers of the Wu Tang Clan
So i think it only appropriate the first post on this grand blog experiment involve the Wu Tang Clan. In fact, some of you assholes that know me may have already heard my rants about who is the greatest/weakest member of the Wu, I feel a straight ranking system is impossible so instead i present to you this system, listing all 9 (10 if you include Cappadonna, which i reluctantly do) in a series of 3 tiers (or chambers if you're down with the Wu.)
THE FIRST CHAMBER
aka Tical aka Johny Blaze
Method Man has been from the beginning one of the standouts of the Wu, he was the only one to be given a solo track on Enter the Wu Tang (the 36 Chambers) and was the first (not including RZA's side project Gravediggers) to produce a solo album. Method's voice is distinct and his style flawless, frequently responsible for using his unique sound to do the hooks in Wu Songs. Method Man's Tical is his first and best, i would consider it in the top 5 of Solo Wu releases, with songs like Bring the Pain becoming instant Wu classics. It can be argued that just having Meth on a track makes it a Wu classic. His later solo releases never really recapture the Wu style like Tical does, in fact although i do like Tical:2000 the shear number of skits makes it a tough listen to get through at times. That being said, Mr. Meth is in this top tier for more than just his musical contribution. From appearing in movies and television to making the classic party cd, The Black Out with non-Wu member Red Man, Meth's reach in the entertainment world is further than most in the Clan. For some the mention of the movie, How High, brings back great memories of "Nice titties dogg!" and of course john adams being smoked. And for the image of that alone, Meth deserves a spot in the top.
Ol' Dirty Bastard
aka Dirt McGirt aka Osiris aka Big Baby Jesus
Where to begin with ODB? His voice was harsh and unique, the easiest to pick out of a crowd. His style was manic, his lyrics often peer lunacy. I love Ol Dirty more than i love any other member of the Wu, its crazy to think how big his impact on the Wu, and on hip hop in general was when you realize how little his vocals were voiced on the Wu cataloge. A founding member of the Wu, a prominent voice on Enter the Wu, and the second member to release a solo album, troubles with the law keep his appearances on future Wu releases to a minimum. Indeed being in jail or on the run from the police figure prominently in the rest of his life. Some of Ol Dirty's songs are the most classic and well known of any solo Wu artist, Shimmy, Shimmy Ya'll and Baby Got your Money being prominent among them. We see some of the most clear evidence of ODB's instability in the song I Can't Wait, where the chorus gradually degrades into the manic screaming of, "BIG BABY JESUS I CANT WAIT! NIGGA FUCK THAT I CANT WAIT!" Oh, and how can we forget that ODB gave us the first "Kayne Moment" at the Grammys, jumping on stage and ranting about the Wu losing their nomination, fuck you Kayne for not even being original in your dickatute. Ol Dirty was in the middle of recording new material when his life was tragically cut short. Its been over 5 years since Dirt died, but the material he produced during his short life is still treasured by Wu fans the world over. Pour some out for our fallen solider...
aka The Abbot aka Bobby Steels aka Bobby Digital aka The RZARECTOR
The RZA is the brains, the supreme creator, the genius behind the Wu Tang Clan, without the RZA none of what the Wu have done and have created would exist. The RZA conceived the concept of a group of artists untied as one, but free to sign to whatever labels they chose to independently, it was under his supreme 5 year control (between Enter the Wu and Wu Tang Forever) that the Wu grew from nothing to become a dominant force in the hip hop world. His production style is unique and has influenced many of today's top hip hop producers, the Wu sound he created is distinct and recognizable from any other. The RZA, like Meth has branched out into other media, acting in movies like American Gangster, (every time i saw the Wu tattoo on his arm it made me smile) and producing the music for movies like Kill Bill. That being said, i would like to note that the RZA is among the weakest rappers of the group, his voice, while being gruff and distinct does not flow like some of the others of the group and the lyrics he keeps for himself are often flat. The RZA however at times is capable of stepping into the big leagues as is evident in Only Built For Cuban Linx (his verse in Wu Gambinos steals the show from even the likes of Method, Rae, and Ghost), Liquid Swords and some songs on Wu Forever (Triumph). The RZA is the heart and soul of the Wu Tang Clan. Oh, and did i forget to mention the books he has written? Check the Tao of Wu out if you are looking for spiritual guidance.
THE SECOND CHAMBER
aka Raekwon the Chef aka Lou Diamonds
Raekwon gets his alias the Chef from his superior skills at cooking crack, it is from alias like that, that we are reminded of the Wu Tang's roots in the slums of Stanton Island. While not a founding member of Wu Tang Raekwon is among the most prolific, along with Ghost and GZA, the meat and bones of the Wu. Rae's style and voice are not unique, but are superb. One cannot talk about Rae without bringing up his masterpiece, Only Built for Cuban Linx, in my opinion the greatest of all solo Wu albums. I say solo loosely as Ghost Face was in nearly every song, and every other Wu Member (sans the jailed ODB) make appearances (including some of Inspeka Deck's finest verses) It should also be noted that the recently released Only Built for Cuban Linx pt 2 is a stand out CD released among a quagmire of recent mediocre Wu releases. Much more a solo CD than the first Cuban Linx, it reminds Wu fans of the old days when the Wu could hold their own against any in the hip hop world. I wait with baited breath for the album Rae is making with Meth and Ghost early this year.
aka Tony Starks aka The Iron Man aka Starky Love
I pair Ghostface Killah and Raekwon very closely together, both are prolific amongst the Wu, and are frequently at their best when rapping on tracks together. Ghost has a more unique style than Rae however, his voice more high pitched than most other Wu members and his flow often a fast stream of words. I rank Ghost's Ironman as one of the top 5 solo Wu CD's and many of his follow ups don't lose the steam that other member's follow up CD's do. The music video for Daytona 500 is one of my favorite Wu videos right up there with the video for Triumph. Ghostface also blesses us with some the dirtiest of Wu lyrics (see the song Gihad from Cuban Linx pt 2 for confirmation.) That being said, his last CD was shit. Make your coming collaboration good enough to make me forget it please. Oh and he used to make cameos on 30 Rock. "She take a bone like a rib eye steak"
aka The Genius
I once heard an associate of mine describe the GZA's style as just a series of sweet words, and i agree, although that statement could be used to describe many of the Wu member's styles. While not as prolific as Rae or Ghost, the GZA is one of the most talented rappers in the group. A founding member of the Wu Tang clan, the GZA's Liquid Swords ranks up there with Cuban Linx as the top of the solo Wu releases, although it should be noted the GZA suffers from the same problem as many Wu members as his later releases, while i think still superior to other later Wu solo releases, fall short of his original efforts. I like to use this opportunity to blame the RZA not having a heavy hand in these later sophomore efforts.
SMOKING A BLUNT IN THE HALLWAY BETWEEN THE SECOND AND THIRD CHAMBER
aka The Rebel INS
Ah, Inspectah Deck... what could have, what should have been. I put the Rebel INS in this shadow zone because i dont have the heart to put him in the lowest tier and i dont have the facts to put him in the upper tier. Let me make this clear, I love Inspectah Deck, i think that hands down his lyrics are some of the most outstanding in the entire Wu Tang Clan. His opening verses to songs like Triumph and Guillotine Swords set the entire rest of the song up for legendary status. Inspectah is also responsible for some of the most classic of Wu Tang lyrics in the song Bring the Ruckus, "I rip it hardcore like porno flick bitches, I roll with groups of ghetto bastards with biscuits!" Anytime i hear his voice i know im in for an amazing verse. This being said Inspectah Deck has never produced a classic Wu album, his first solo CD not being released until 1999. Without a classic CD or classic single solo song I can not rightfully put Inspectah Deck with Rae, Ghost, and the GZA, but with his epic lyrics and his manic style i could not justify putting him in the lowest tier with the likes of Cappadonna.
THE THIRD CHAMBER
aka Noodles aka the high chief Jamel Irief
Masta Killa's name comes from the term, "dutch master killer" because of his above average blunt rolling ability. He was one of the last to join the group, featured on only one song on Enter the Wu Tang, his style is very similar to his mentor, the GZA's, slow and smooth. Masta Killa has been a part of many classic Wu songs, and i actually think he is a fairly competent and skilled rapper, that being said, he was the last to release a solo album, not released until 2004, No Said Date, is actually a pretty sweet CD, featuring all the remaining Wu Members on tracks. I used the words pretty sweet, because it is just that, a great hip hop CD, but not a classic Wu album. In conclusion, Masta Killa is an above average rapper but i feel he does not deserve a spot among the Wu titans.
aka Golden Arms
I actually really like U-God's style, his voice is the lowest of the Wu, and he can change his flow from rough to smooth without effort. U-God is one of the easiest to pick out of a crowd. That being said, I've never been a fan of U-God's lyrics, some of his best work can be found on Wu Forever and Cuban Linx, and he was the second to last to release a solo CD, Golden Arms Redemption, which was a solid CD, but like Masta Killa's first, not a Wu Classic.
NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT CAPPADONNA!!