Friday, January 9, 2015

The Wu-Tang Clan Journey: "Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)"

Wow, what a way to start such an incredible journey, dating back to 1993! If I recall correctly, it was either "Protect Ya Neck" or "C.R.E.A.M." I heard first. Either way, I remember going absolutely crazy when I heard them both, especially the latter. It was also around this time that my late cousin Rita had this album on cassette, which she then let me borrow, and trust me I played the hell out of it, lol! Prior to her untimely passing, I never did get a chance to tell her thanks for not only letting me borrow this back then, but thanks for being part of such good memories as well. Loyal reader, this is it right here, the debut album from the Wu-Tang Clan. I hope this intro wasn't too brief, because I'll have a LOT to say about it in this first part of the journey!




Release date: November 9, 1993




All songs produced by The RZA



SHAOLIN SWORD

1. "Bring Da Ruckus"
The RZA, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck and GZA

"SHAOLIN SHADOWBOXIN,  AND THE WU-TANG SWORD STYLE. IF WHAT YOU SAY IS TRUE, THE SHAOLIN AND THE WU-TANG COULD BE DANGEROUS! DO YOU THINK YOUR WU-TANG SWORD CAN DEFEAT ME??!!....  ON GUARD, I'LL LET YOU TRY MY WU-TANG SWORD STYLE!!!"


Simply put, this is one of the most memorable openings on any hip hop album in history.


"Ghostface, catch the blast of a hype verse!" 

"Yeah they fake and all that/Carryin gats but yo my clan, rollin like 40 macs!" -Raekwon
"And that's one in the chamber, Wu-Tang banga, 36 styles of danger!" -Raekwon

 "I rip it, hardcore like porno flick bitches/I roll wit troops and ghetto bastards wit biscuits/Check it, my method on the microphone's bangin/Wu-Tang slang, I'll leave ya head piece hangin!" -Inspectah Deck

"Creepin up on sight, now it's fright night/My Wu-Tang slang is mad fuckin dangerous/And more deadly than the stroke of an axe, choppin through ya back/Givin bystanders heart attacks!" --GZA


Wow, just wow, this incredible opener still BANGS and it's my pick for the best album opener ever. Ghostface, Rae, Deck, GZA, and RZA (on the hook) came through in the hardest way possible, and like I said before, if THIS song didn't have you amped, you were listening to the wrong album!
*5 out of 5*



2. "Shame On A Nigga"
Ol Dirty Bastard, Method Man and Raekwon

"Shame on a nigga who try to run game on a nigga/Who buckwild wit the trigga!"


That ODB delivered hook sums up this Syl Johnson sampled ("Different Strokes") classic. You can tell ODB was going for laughs with his verses, but he, as well as Meth and Rae, still came nice with it.
*5 out of 5*

"(Yo) Hut 1, hut 2, hut 3, HUT!/Ol Dirty Bastard live and uncut!"



3. "Clan In Da Front"
GZA

"Clan in da front, let ya feet stomp
Niggas on the left, rag shit to death
Hoods on the right, wild for the night
Punks in the back, come on in the track!"
 
"The Wu is comin through, the outcome is critical/Fuckin wit my style is sorta like a miracle/On 34th street, in the Square of Herald I gamed Ella/The bitch caught a Fitz like Gerald-ine Ferraro"

"So it really doesn't matter on how you intrigue/You can't fuck wit those in the major leagues!"


In the first solo track on a Wu album, GZA received that spot and he more than delivers here, somewhat of a precursor to "Liquid Swords". Clan in da front indeed.
*5 out of 5*



4. "Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber"

Before we get to this classic, it begins with the memorable "Killa Tape" skit, which finds Rae not too pleased with Meth for misplacing said tape ("yo man, niggas came over there wit 40s and blunts kid, the shit just came up missing son", Meth says, lol), and from there Ghost comes in to inform everyone about the beating of someone in the neighborhood. Then we get to this banger, featuring all members except U-God and Masta Killa. Rae starts things with a TIGHT opening verse ("check the method from Bedrock, cause I'll rock ya head to bed!"), followed by a memorable, show stealing verse from Meth, as well as dope verses from Deck, Ghostface, ODB, GZA and RZA. Great stuff here.
*5 out of 5*



5. "Can It Be All So Simple"
Raekwon and Ghostface Killah


This one has always been a personal favorite of mine, not just because of the beat and lyrics, but the theme itself. Rae and Ghost not only reflect on how things used to be for them growing up (hence the song's title, plus I can relate to reminiscing like that), they also talk about the struggle in those environments and continuously wanting better for themselves ("I wanna lamp, I wanna be in the shade plus the spotlight", says Ghostface). Again, more great stuff here. "Everybody's always talkin bout the good ol days", yes indeed.
*5 out of 5*



INTERMISSION
Meth is at the forefront talking about each member of the Clan, including himself, and what they bring to the table. And speaking of which, allow me to break this down as told by Meth!!
Inspectah Deck
"He's like that dude that'll sit back and watch you, play yourself and all the right, and see you sit there and know you lying, and he'll take you to court after that cause he the inspector, and also he's the Rebel INS."

Raekwon
"And Shallah Raekwon, he the chef, he cookin up some marvelous shit to get ya mouth watery, on some ol shit!"

Method Man
"Then it's the Method Man it's like mad different methods to the way I do my shit..... basically Meth is like roll that shit, light that shit, smoke it!"

U-God
"Babby U, he a psychopathic thinker."

Ol Dirty Bastard
"Then we got the Ol Dirty Bastard, cause there ain't no father to his style, that's why he the Ol Dirty Bastard."

Ghostface Killah
"He on some now you see me, now you don't."

The RZA
"He the sharpest mafucka in the whole Clan, he always on point, razor sharp, wit the beats, wit the rhymes, whatever, and he DJ."

GZA
"And the GZA, the Genius. He's the backbone of the whole shit." -Rae (Self explanatory the Genius!)



Afterwards, Meth, Rae and Ghostface talk more about dominating the game and what they see for themselves in the future, which will continuously be covered throughout this journey. (To this day, I still don't know the name of the man that interviewed them.)


WU-TANG SWORD
 

6. "Da Mystery of Chessboxin"
Co-Produced By Ol Dirty Bastard
U-God, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, Method Man, Ol Dirty Bastard, Ghostface Killah and Masta Killa

Oh man, saying this joint is a classic AND it's STILL DOPE after all these years is quite the understatement. I mean, even my words can't do this one justice. ALL verses from U-God (probably his best ever, opening and otherwise), Deck, Rae, ODB, Ghostface and Masta Killa are literally on point and if I quoted anything, I'd be listing the entire song word for word, it's simply THAT good loyal reader. The hype hook provided by Meth is the proverbial icing on this Wu-Tang cake, no doubt. Classic material. (And if you figured I was rapping along and outta my chair while doing this post, you figured right, lol!)
*5 out of 5*



7. "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta Fuck Wit"  
Co-Produced By Method Man
The RZA, Inspectah Deck and Method Man

"Now why try and test, the Rebel INS/Blessed since the birth, I'll earth-slam the best/Cause I bake the cake, then take the cake/And eat it too wit my crew while we head state to state" -Inspectah Deck

The dopeness continues with this apply titled, fast paced banger.
*5 out of 5*
 

8. "C.R.E.A.M."
Raekwon, Inspectah Deck and Method Man



I have an interesting story about this before I proceed. Back in either late 93 or early-mid 94 (had to have been 9 years old at this point), I had this single recorded on a blank tape, something I and many others used to do back in the day. I recall riding with my then step dad Wade somewhere at the time and I popped this tape into his tape deck in the ride. As we were riding, I was bobbing my head (of course), then Wade asks me, "why you listening to this mess?" I chuckled a bit and said "cause I like it" with the biggest smile on my face! Ah, the memories. 

Continuing on, it's another understatement to say that this is a classic, one of my favorite Wu-Tang songs and truly one of the greatest songs in hip hop history. The acronym "C.R.E.A.M.", creatively standing for "Cash Rules Everything Around Me", not only became a popular nickname for money, but this also was one of many defining terms of this era, for better or worse depending on your views. Rae comes from the perspective of talking about doing whatever it took to get paid, which unfortunately included robbery and selling drugs (and eventually coming to the conclusion that a change was needed). It's not that Rae was glorifying it, but when telling a story like this, you have to keep it real and not sugarcoat any of the details. Deck certainly does "kick the truth to the young Black youth" with his verse, expanding on Rae's verse and advising us to accept that "life is hectic" while at the same time making the upcoming generation aware of the life's realities. Powerful message all around and it's SO memorable in every sense of the word. CLASSIC.
*5 out of 5*


9. "Method Man"

With hindsight being 20/20, listening to this you instantly knew that Meth was going to be "the star" of the Clan and this solo spot shows why. He rides RZA's beat in the most ruggedly smooth way possible with a strong charisma on full display. (And yes, the "torture skit" at the beginning is still hilarious, lol.)
*5 out of 5*




10. "Protect Ya Neck"

 

How many more understatements can possibly be made about this album, lol? Man, ANOTHER classic showing the Clan in full force (with the exception of Masta Killa). Much like "Da Mystery of Chessboxin", lyrically this joint is so dope that I'd be quoting the entire song if I placed any of those lyrics here, it's incredible. Deck starts a trend by coming with a memorable opening verse, with the momentum continuing through each verse, and of course GZA, whose closing verse was picked by The Source magazine as "the dopest verse of 93", ends this song on this tightest note possible ("the Wu is too slammin for the Cold Killin labels")l. Note to aspiring groups: THIS is how you make a song with all members if you're part of a group.
*5 out of 5*


11. "Tearz"
The RZA and Ghostface Killah

Genius.com described this song well: RZA and Ghostface recall tragic stories and after the laughter and happiness, then comes the tears. In a nice touch, I liked how the beginning of the song played into RZA's verse (in the background) as he rapped. Simple yet very effective.
*5 out of 5*


12. "Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber- Part 2"

And to close this incredible album, we get part 2 of "Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber" and it's just as dope as the first one.
*5 out of 5*




This is my #3 favorite album of all time. Not only does it STILL hold up today, it has aged well and it remains an incredible listening experience (and trust me the nostalgic vibes are SO strong here that even that is ANOTHER understatement). For a DEBUT, it certainly doesn't get any better than this. With SLAMMIN lyrics and production, all involved fired on all cylinders. At the end of the day, no amount of verbal hyperbole can put this landmark album into its proper context (also selling two million copies in the U.S. alone to date), one of the greatest albums in all the history of music.


5 STARS


Next up, Method Man's 1994 debut "Tical".

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