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warning.gif posted on 8-6-2011 at 03:24 PM
The Essential Wu-Tang Clan Part 1 By Mark 563




The Essential Wu-Tang Clan
Part 1 – Wu-Tang Clan BC (Before Chambers)


Anyone with even the slightest interest in Hip-Hop will be familiar with the Wu-Tang Clan. Their catalogue is deep but not all of it is indispensable. Certainly, their better material ranks up there as some of the best of the genre, but other releases can be quite forgettable. The crew is currently on their Rebirth tour with dates announced to include Australia, so in preparation for their local shows, we’re breaking down the essential Wu-Tang releases.

For the first installment, we’re taking it back to the essence and focusing on the early material.
Back in 1993, the Staten Island super-group exploded onto the Hip-Hop scene with the release of their certified classic debut group album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Prior to the LP, they dropped the 12” single, Protect Ya Neck, an underground smash featuring hot verses from no less than 8 fresh emcees.

The Protect Ya Neck single had initially been released in 1992 on an independent tip through Rza’s own Wu-Tang Records. This release had an orange and yellow centre label and different tracklist to the more familiar Loud Records release from 1993. Limited to a pressing of only 500 units, the original Wu-Tang Records pressing is a fairly sought after record and attracts a hefty price tag. The main difference between the 2 versions is the B-side cut, which on the Loud pressing was Method Man’s eponymously titled solo track, whereas on the earlier release you get After The Laughter Comes Tears, a rougher, slightly different version of the track Tearz. It was the underground success of the original Protect Ya Neck 12” that really got the Wu noticed and secured their group deal to Steve Rifkind’s Loud, which prompted the re-release of the single.

But even before that, members of the Wu had already experienced dealings within the recording industry.

It’s common knowledge that the Gza had previously had a record deal alongside the legendary Juice Crew at Fly Ty’s Cold Chillin’ Records. In 1991 the label released his debut album, under the stage-name The Genius, entitled Words From The Genius. The majority of the albums production was handled by Easy Mo Bee (who would later rise to fame for his work on Notorious BIG’s Ready To Die LP), but musically it sounded dated, even at the time. To the Gza’s credit his vocals don’t sound terrible on the album, but with such uninspired beats backing him, this makes the album only worth checking as a curiosity.

Before the deal turned sour, Cold Chillin’ released handful of 12” singles from the album. The instantly forgettable Who’s Your Rhymin’ Hero, Come Do Me, a horrible New Jack Swing type track that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Bel Biv Devoe album and finds the Genius dropping some sex-style lyrics that are a million miles away from the deep style he’s now known for, and Words From A Genius, one of the stronger cuts from the album, which gets the remix treatment at the hands the Rza and is well worth checking out.


The Genius - Come Do Me

Capitalising on the huge success of the Wu-Tang’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Cold Chillin’ re-released the Genius LP in 1994, albeit with the addition of Pass The Bone, a Prince Rakeem (Rza) produced track from ’91 that never made the original album. Not wanting to miss a dollar, the label also put the track out as a single, but without any added tracks, it’s only worth copping if you didn’t already grab the LP.

Prior to Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) dropping, the Rza, also had a brief solo career. Signed to Tommy Boy Records under the name Prince Rakeem, he released the 12” single, Ooh, I Love You, Rakeem. The record has 3 different tracks plus a couple of remixes, and all warrant a listen. Rakeem adopts a Loverman steez throughout the record that bares no resemblance to the Rzarector persona most Wu heads are more familiar with, but it works on a goofy tip. The title track flexes some sleazy horns as a posse of women provide a chanted chorus, while the Rza roll-calls all those special ladies that he loves. It’s is a personal favourite of mine and a track still gets regular burn, but I may be alone with that sentiment. Also worth noting is the cut, Sexcapades, which features a remix credited as ‘Wu-Tang Mix’.


Prince Rakeem Ooh, I Love You, Rakeem

Back in the day, before Myspace and Youtube, rappers had to actually record demo-tapes and shop them around to record labels before they released any material. Yeah, I know, judging by today’s scene, the whole process sounds archaic, but it was the standard process. As a result, there’s a plethora of rough, unfinished and original versions of tracks from most of your favourite established acts. A quick search online will find you links to various versions of the Wu-Tang Clan Demos. These include tracks from the original Wu demo-tape that was shopped around labels for a deal, as well as freestyles, outtakes and alternate versions of more recognizable songs. With almost all of the original members featuring throughout the various cuts, the sound quality tends to be pretty poor, but that’s to be expected.

Back before the Wu, the Rza, the Gza, and fellow cousin, Ol’ Dirty Bastard (then known as Ason Unique) were in a group known as All In Together Now. You may have seen the video floating around Youtube of the group performing at a talent show. If not, the live audio is included on the demo-tape, which features Ol’ Dirty ranting in his drunken style before laying down a beatbox for Rza to kick oral-sex based rhymes over.


All In Together Now Talent Show Freestyle

Bring Da Ruckus and After The Laughter are rough versions of the tracks that would eventually end up on Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Both tracks are more relaxed than the final versions, but certainly have that gritty Wu-Tang feel that the album is known for.

Which Way Is Up and It’s Murdah are Rza solo joints that sound like they were recorded during the Ooh, I Love You, Rakeem session and are enjoyable, on that more lighthearted Prince Rakeem tip.

Method Man (known here as Shaquan) and U-God (Baby-U) Join the Rza on Your On. Meth is barely recognizable whereas U-God’s inimitable voice is instantly unmistakable, as are his robotic delivery and nursery rhyme lyrics. I Gets Down For My Crown sounds similar to Wu-Wear: The Garment Renaissance (recorded for the High School High soundtrack in 1996), with Meth, U-God and Rza joined by Inspectah Deck. Much like on the finished album proper, Meth also blesses a solo joint on the demo-tape, Ice Cream Man, which is much more of a nod to the charismatic style he’d go on to perfect.


Method Man Ice Cream Man

Ol’ Dirty Bastard pops up again on a number of tracks. The short freestyle, Take It Back To Brooklyn is an entertaining solo worth checking. Wu-Tang is a cracking track not dissimilar to Shame On A Nigga, featuring lyrics that Ol’ Dirty would eventually recycle on Funkmaster Flex’s Nuttin But Flavor single in ’95. He’s paired up with Gza on What Do You Say, where, again he spits verses that he would later reuse (this time for his hit single, Brooklyn Zoo).


Wu-Tang Clan (Ol’ Dirty Bastard) Wu-Tang

While none of this early material compares to the quality of the finished debut album, it’s all worth exploring. Some of it’s really good and some of it is really bad, but it’s out there for you to check.

Make sure you check out the Wu-Tang Clan show at your nearest venue – Wu-Tang Clan play Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on Friday 5th August (tickets from Ticketek), Melbourne’s Festival Hall on Saturday 6th August (tickets from Ticketmaster) and Perth’s Metro City on Sunday 7th August (tickets from Moshtix).


Pre-Wu-Tang Clan Gza, Rza and Ol’ Dirty Bastard on Rhythm & Soul Public Access TV March 1991

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[*] posted on 8-6-2011 at 03:35 PM


good post yo.
love the early Rhakeem single, with 3 heavy mackadocious joints on it. Easy Mo Bee on the beat tip too.

'Words from the Genius' is solid too. I would say the album beats are good, not brilliant, and not wak, but not groundbreaking, which is your point i'm guessing. Mo Bee was indeed in his prime at this time, and when you weigh up handing your beats to Miles Davis or the unknown Genius at the time, things make a little more sense.

can't say I've heard the other early material officially released though, so thanks for the info Mark.

i have a question: is there any other early material from this period from GP Wu, as i know Rhakeem shouted them out back in 91 on his single. The 'Gladiator Posse'.

[Edited on 8-6-2011 by Mackula]




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[*] posted on 8-6-2011 at 04:26 PM


563 is fantastic.



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[*] posted on 8-6-2011 at 04:39 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by Toam.of.Toam.Ho
563 is fantastic.


I second this notion.

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[*] posted on 8-6-2011 at 08:39 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by Mackula
good post yo.
love the early Rhakeem single, with 3 heavy mackadocious joints on it. Easy Mo Bee on the beat tip too.

'Words from the Genius' is solid too. I would say the album beats are good, not brilliant, and not wak, but not groundbreaking, which is your point i'm guessing. Mo Bee was indeed in his prime at this time, and when you weigh up handing your beats to Miles Davis or the unknown Genius at the time, things make a little more sense.

can't say I've heard the other early material officially released though, so thanks for the info Mark.

i have a question: is there any other early material from this period from GP Wu, as i know Rhakeem shouted them out back in 91 on his single. The 'Gladiator Posse'.

[Edited on 8-6-2011 by Mackula]


Yeah, I'm a big fan of that old Rakeem 12" - we used to spin it out regularly at a Hip Hop jam we ran in East London. I got him to sign my copy when I supported him in Melbourne a year or 2 back - he was pretty shocked to see it:



As for GP Wu, not so sure about demo cuts, but I'll be mentioning them in one of the future Wu posts.

Thanks for the kind words, chaps, and thanks for reading.

Here's a link to the Wu-Tang Clan Demos Deluxe Edition for those that haven't heard them:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=FUYJVIJO

1. Crane Bill Style (Ghostface Killah)
2. Wu-Tang Master (Prince Rakeem)
3. Bring Da Ruckus (Raekwon, Prince Rakeem & Inspectah Deck)
4. Enter The Wu-Tang (Prince Rakeem)
5. Problems (Prince Rakeem)
6. Take It Back To Brooklyn (Ason Unique)
7. Wu-Tang (Ason Unique)
8. Cuttin' Headz (Prince Rakeem & Ason Unique)
9. The Wu Is Comin' Thru (Prince Rakeem & Ason Unique)
10. What Do You Say (The Genius & Ason Unique)
11. Taking Heads Off (Prince Rakeem)
12. Wich Way Is Up (Prince Rakeem)
13. Your On (Shaquan Baby-U & Prince Rakeem)
14. Stop The Breaks (Rakewon, Killa Sin, KRS-One & Notorious Big)
15. Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito Show Freestyle
16. It's Murda (Prince Rakeem)
17. I Gets Down For My Crown (Shaquan Baby-U, Prince Rakeem & Inspectah Deck)
18. Words From The Genius (Prince Rakeem Remix)
19. Ice Cream Man (Method Man)
20. Freestyle At Talent Show (Prince Rakeem & Ason Unique)
21. After The Laughter (Prince Rakeem & Ghostface Killah) (Original)
22. Ooh We Love You Rakeem (Original)
23. It's All About Me (Prince Rakeem)
24. O.D.B. Forever (Ason Unique)




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[*] posted on 8-6-2011 at 09:12 PM


Tickets on sale tomorrow eh? Legit? If I get robbed a hundy I'm gonna have to do a few hours of overtime. :o



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[*] posted on 8-6-2011 at 10:05 PM


Great thread.



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[*] posted on 8-6-2011 at 10:49 PM


that words from the genius was the shit, swear he hasnt aged in 20 yrs



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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 08:14 AM


Going to see the Wu this Saturday at The Forum in London. Shit is bound to go off.

ODB's son performing as well. Anybody know how he went at rock the bells?
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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 08:57 AM


Excellent article. Keep em coming.

History rulez, ok :P




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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 09:36 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by 563
Quote:
Originally posted by Mackula
good post yo.
love the early Rhakeem single, with 3 heavy mackadocious joints on it. Easy Mo Bee on the beat tip too.

'Words from the Genius' is solid too. I would say the album beats are good, not brilliant, and not wak, but not groundbreaking, which is your point i'm guessing. Mo Bee was indeed in his prime at this time, and when you weigh up handing your beats to Miles Davis or the unknown Genius at the time, things make a little more sense.

can't say I've heard the other early material officially released though, so thanks for the info Mark.

i have a question: is there any other early material from this period from GP Wu, as i know Rhakeem shouted them out back in 91 on his single. The 'Gladiator Posse'.

[Edited on 8-6-2011 by Mackula]


Yeah, I'm a big fan of that old Rakeem 12" - we used to spin it out regularly at a Hip Hop jam we ran in East London. I got him to sign my copy when I supported him in Melbourne a year or 2 back - he was pretty shocked to see it:



As for GP Wu, not so sure about demo cuts, but I'll be mentioning them in one of the future Wu posts.

Thanks for the kind words, chaps, and thanks for reading.

Here's a link to the Wu-Tang Clan Demos Deluxe Edition for those that haven't heard them:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=FUYJVIJO

1. Crane Bill Style (Ghostface Killah)
2. Wu-Tang Master (Prince Rakeem)
3. Bring Da Ruckus (Raekwon, Prince Rakeem & Inspectah Deck)
4. Enter The Wu-Tang (Prince Rakeem)
5. Problems (Prince Rakeem)
6. Take It Back To Brooklyn (Ason Unique)
7. Wu-Tang (Ason Unique)
8. Cuttin' Headz (Prince Rakeem & Ason Unique)
9. The Wu Is Comin' Thru (Prince Rakeem & Ason Unique)
10. What Do You Say (The Genius & Ason Unique)
11. Taking Heads Off (Prince Rakeem)
12. Wich Way Is Up (Prince Rakeem)
13. Your On (Shaquan Baby-U & Prince Rakeem)
14. Stop The Breaks (Rakewon, Killa Sin, KRS-One & Notorious Big)
15. Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito Show Freestyle
16. It's Murda (Prince Rakeem)
17. I Gets Down For My Crown (Shaquan Baby-U, Prince Rakeem & Inspectah Deck)
18. Words From The Genius (Prince Rakeem Remix)
19. Ice Cream Man (Method Man)
20. Freestyle At Talent Show (Prince Rakeem & Ason Unique)
21. After The Laughter (Prince Rakeem & Ghostface Killah) (Original)
22. Ooh We Love You Rakeem (Original)
23. It's All About Me (Prince Rakeem)
24. O.D.B. Forever (Ason Unique)


ahh, nice one.
it would definately be a rare rekkid in australia. no doubt he was amped to see it! he used to rhyme so clearly back then, and after the Wu got some noize, he was steady mumbling on the mic.

thanks for that link mate.
yeah, super keen on early Gladiator Posse shit if it was recorded.




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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 09:50 AM


great post!



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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 10:39 AM


Erg, woke up at 9:45, had already missed first round tickets, had to part with $120 for "Floor2" which probably means I'm on the fucking balcony at the Enmore.

Looks like I'll be sitting down.




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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 11:28 AM


Copped tix for Melbs show, Standing, Licenced... see yous ecunts there.


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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 11:34 AM


nice one Mark.

whats the full line up for this tour?




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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 12:21 PM


just cappadonna and sinz of man



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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 12:39 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by FRAKSHA
nice one Mark.

whats the full line up for this tour?


From what I understand, it's Ghost, Rae, Meth, Inspectah Deck, Gza, Masta Killa, U-God and Young Dirty Bastard - no Rza.

At least that's what the press release is indicating:
http://ozhiphop.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=124236

[Edited on 9-6-2011 by 563]




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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 01:44 PM


tix are on sale today get them fast.... From $95-$155 @ Festival Hall.. Tickets via ticketmaster



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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 01:48 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by 563
Quote:
Originally posted by FRAKSHA
nice one Mark.

whats the full line up for this tour?


From what I understand, it's Ghost, Rae, Meth, Inspectah Deck, Gza, Masta Killa, U-God and Young Dirty Bastard - no Rza.

At least that's what the press release is indicating:
http://ozhiphop.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=124236

[Edited on 9-6-2011 by 563]


cheers, i saw Rae on twitter saying he wasnt coming a few days ago, just wondering if anyone knows if this has changed. I'm sure ill still go anyway though




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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 01:51 PM


too much coin... would like to see the first album ONLY done live - then i would hop along.

big long weekend happening here, Biz, Cool V and Jazzy Jay!




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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 02:50 PM


Deck not coming now either???



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[*] posted on 9-6-2011 at 05:29 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by FRAKSHA
Deck not coming now either???


Not really surprising is it? Wu are notorious for member no-shows at international shows. The only place you're likely to be certain of a full turn out is in the US.

We saw them all (minus ODB, but his Mum and Son were there), along with Theodore Unit, Redman and a whole bunch of other affiliated acts at the Ol' Dirty Tribute show in New York a few years back, and it was dope.




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[*] posted on 10-6-2011 at 10:13 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by ap89
Going to see the Wu this Saturday at The Forum in London. Shit is bound to go off.

ODB's son performing as well. Anybody know how he went at rock the bells?


Where'd you get the tickets and how much?




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[*] posted on 10-6-2011 at 10:25 PM


uh. so rae and deck not coming. just got tickets.... surely false advertising....



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[*] posted on 20-6-2011 at 10:12 AM


so no Rza, Deck and Rae?

The lineup from last year will probably end up better than this.




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