Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers – 20 Year Anniversary

Wu-Tang 36 Chambers“Rappers claim that they changed the game. But ask them how. They wouldn’t be able to tell you because it’s so cliché. But the way WE changed the game, we signed to a record label as a group, with the option to sign solo deals with different labels. UNHEARD OF…. now it’s the norm. You got groups coming out saying ‘we wanna Wu-Tang deal’…”(Method Man, 2004)

Such legendary groups, such as NWA, Beastie Boys, EPMD, Eric B & Rakim, Public Enemy, all made their impact in hip hop differently. But never has there been a group that had such an impact in the culture spawned so many hit albums, group, solo, launched a clothing line, landed acting roles, directed films, scored soundtracks, wrote books, released their own video game, a swarm of affiliates, the list goes on. It all came from a symbol that was designed by producer Allah Mathematics.That symbol has become the most powerful and recognizable logo in hip hop, and has a worldwide cult-like following. Fans drew the logo on their school books, used it as graffiti in the streets, had it shaved in their hair, tattooed from their arm to their face. These fans come together on the internet, social networking, move as one, and chop off the head of a keyboard warrior who dares defy the dynasty.

November 9, 2013, marks the 20th anniversary of the album that started it all. Never mind Prince Rakeem’s ‘Ooh I Love You Rakeem’ or GZA’s ‘Words From the Genius’ album, even though they were great respectfully, never mind the All Together Now crew, which were the cousins RZA, GZA & ODB, 20 years ago on this day, two albums came out that shook the very foundation of hip hop and turned it on its axis, A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders and Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers.

Track by track, Rhyme & Reason, this is my story of how I became a loyal fan.

WuTang+Clan+Original

Shaolin Sword:

1. BRING DA RUCKUS 4:10

As soon as the album starts, you feel like a kung fu star, well at least I did. Then suddenly you got that screwface look. You feel like kicking anything in sight. You feel like you can take on anybody. No matter where you were, you felt like you were in a music video with your desired weapon in your hands. That’s what this tune meant to me.

2. SHAME ON A NIGGA 2:57

Ol’ Dirty Bastard was my early favourite member of the clan as I guess it was most fans, simply because of his unorthodox style… never heard before. It would be the first time you heard that trademark voice effect of a gun going off or something on impact – BLAOW!!!!

3. CLAN IN DA FRONT 4:33

The beginning of this sounds like the scene RZA described in Wu-Tang Forever’s ‘Triumph’: “These C-Cypher punks couldn’t hold us, a thousand men rushing in, not one n!**@ was sober…” Since GZA was the first member with a solo album (pre-Wu), the clan stepped back, chanted WU! in the background and let the Genius expose wack MCs with human faeces in their draws.

4. WU-TANG: 7th CHAMBER 6:05

Unlike many fans, truth be told, I prefer this version to Part II, not taking anything away from it of course. The skit that comes before this track may or may not be intended to be funny. What I wanna know is, who was the idiot that asked Ghostface ‘Is he dead?’ and ‘Are we out?’ Ghost sounded like he wanted to slap him upside the head! Who was that guy? Answers on a postcard please!

5. CAN IT BE ALL SO SIMPLE 6:53

Little did we know that the pairing of Raekwon & Ghostface on this track would be the beginning of that PURPLE TAPE that was released in 1995 that changed the game again. Everyone started having a.k.a.’s outside of the Wu, the same album had a blessed remix which had RZA have a mess around with the original track, even Lauryn Hill took the track and turned it into a runaway success with ‘Ex-Factor’ on her critically acclaimed ‘Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ album. It’s not every artist that can take a Wu track, remake it and create another classic out of it. Take notes Drake, oh too late… as in the words of Chris Tucker in Rush Hour 2, ‘He ruined a classic!!!’

INTERMISSION

I love this because it really introduces each member and breaks down their style individually. Raekwon reveals that they are here forever… and 20 years later look! Albums are still dropping, more projects in the works, the shows keep going. We also had the idea that GZA was the ‘leader’ of the clan. Maybe because he got the most experience on a solo tip at the time.

Before I continue I wanna make a small point; back then cassettes were labeled Side 1 or Side 2. I found it creative that Wu-Tang kept the concept with the sides of their tapes. After the intermission you turned over the tape in your system, you swung the Shaolin Sword, now we swing the….

Wu-Tang Sword:

6. DA MYSTERY OF CHESSBOXIN’ 4:48

The funny thing about this video is I saw the making of it on Yo! MTV Raps, but unless I missed a few episodes, I never saw the video on MTV. I saw the video on ‘The Box: Music Television You Control’ music channel. I even remember the number selection – it was #310. ‘Can It Be All…’ was #547. Know that I’m not lying – check your VHS tapes! This was the tune that officially made me a Wu-Tang fan. It was the tune that officially made Ol’ Dirty Bastard my favourite member, that didn’t last long though.. when Method Man and Mary J Blige dropped that Tical classic, it went from ODB to Meth. All the while Ghostface Killah was lurking in the shadows slowly emerging as the true (in my opinion) Wu-Tang star and it wasn’t until 2000 when he released the single ‘Apollo Kids’ that I truly realised that he is not only my favourite member of the Wu but my favourite artist of all time. Going back to this video, apart from ODB’s charisma, the picture that has inscribed in every Wu fan’s mind is Masta Killa’s début, wielding machetes around a chess person as he rhymes his most memorable verse. NEVER SEEN BEFORE. I respect the chess person that remained still while Masta Killa even did that!

7. WU-TANG CLAN AIN’T NUTHING TA F* WIT 3:36

If you have a Facebook account, log into it. Click on any Wu-Tang link. Look at the comments. 9 times out of 10 guaranteed a fan will utter those words – Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F* Wit!!! You see fans live by that code and believe in it and adapt it to their lives. Every once in a while an internet troll or a hater will crop up and say something disrespectful about the Wu… that person is asking to be blocked, reported and thrown off the site. That’s how the fans roll. You can have fans of Noreaga, Busta Rhymes, DMX, Nas etc… but they are not a movement like the Wu fans are. That single line has translated into T-shirt sales, and it SOLD. The best thing about this track is its origins as narrated by The RZA. Knowing that it was originally called ‘Who The F**k Are You’, fans immediately searched high and low for that rarity.

8. C.R.E.A.M. 4:12

Arguably the most popular track of Wu-Tang’s career, and I think a lot of people related because of Raekwon and Inspectah Deck’s storytelling, like in earlier tracks in the album before this, it was pretty much straight spitting lyrics. this track shown that Wu-Tang can also give realistic and positive messages in their music. One thing I loved about the video was the symbol at the bottom right of the screen as if you were watching Wu-Tang TV. I wished they kept that going in every single video they did. They did it one other time with ‘Uzi (Pinky Ring)’. This track is so classic that rappers, singers, actors and so on and so forth still quote the acronym, sample it in some way or another, use interpolations. RZA once said that you could take this track and make an album out of it. He’s right. Considering what people have done over 20 years, a compilation album could be made, and it would sell by the bucketload.

9. METHOD MAN 5:50

The torture skit before this was mad!!! The way Method Man & Raekwon described the tortures and trying to out do each other, they did with so much feeling you could actually imagine it through your ear drums. I don’t even know why this skit even happened… I think the clan had various random conversations and RZA would have his DAT player recording live. It wasn’t like RZA told Meth & Rae to go in the studio and start talking random. I think it was something that got  caught in the moment and I think that’s what gave it that realism and authenticity. A lot of women fell in love/lust with this man because of his track with Mary J Blige. It sure as hell wasn’t this track. Don’t get me wrong, the real female Method Man fans ARE out there because they are on my fb friends list… but ask an average woman who loves Method Man, to recite this track right here start to finish. Smart money says they wouldn’t be able to do it.

10: PROTECT YA NECK 4:52

True story: I have gone on record and said that Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… album was the very first album I ever purchased. So that might leave some of you wondering – how did I get son involved with 36 Chambers? The answer is simple. Ever since I heard ‘Chessboxing’, I just had to have a copy of this album. I began doing paper round at age 13, I was earning £11 a week. My fam instilled the ‘saving money in the bank’ in me, so half the money went in the bank, the other half went on arcade games, blank cassette tapes and kebab & chips. Eventually I saved enough to buy a Sony Walkman. What happened was I had a friend at school that loved the Wu-Tang like I did. We used to recite the lyrics in class and get in trouble many times for it! He did me a copy but the tracks were in the wrong order. The first track I heard was this, while ‘Method Man’ sounded like the last track on the tape based on how it ended. I didn’t even realise that these were the guys who performed this (Protect Ya Neck) as I heard it on the radio a year earlier.

11. TEARZ 4:17

“How do I say goodbye, it’s always the good ones that have to die…” (THE RZA)

Even though the two subject matters described in the song happen in reality too often, that one line by the RZA didn’t relate to me until 2008 when my Grandma returned to the essence. See no one can tell me that Wu have fell off, when their favourite current rapper cannot put out a positive record about AIDS like the clan did. Ghostface Killah’s storytelling started right here, and escalated into another acronym track that the clan are known for making creatively: America Is Dying Slowly. Wu fans started hunting down the original soul samples and storing them in their archives. Sampling was happening way before Wu but I don’t think they were appreciated enough until Wu started doing it.

12. WU-TANG: 7th CHAMBER – PART II 5:08

“I be that insane n!**@ from the psycho ward I’m on the trigger, plus I got the Wu-Tang Sword so how you figure…” (Method Man)

When I heard that line and in the early years, I lived through Method Man warrioristically. I really felt that I had an imaginary Wu-Tang sword and would use it to cut through my life’s goals and cut out all the negativity that stands in the way. I have always said that any track that has the Wu chant in it is instantly a classic, whether it’s WU, or WU-TANG! I think this is partly the reason Wu fans prefer this version. I could be wrong though.

BONUS TRACK

13: METHOD MAN (REMIX) SKUNK MIX 3:12

This is a true story – first time I heard this, I wasn’t so keen on it. Now hear me out before you stone me for blasphemy. When I was young, I would listen to the radio or hear tapes that my cousin recorded from the radio. I didn’t know a lot of rappers names, but along came this one track that I found myself rewinding again and again. It would be this track B.U.T. it was a rare remix version – that’s the version I heard first not knowing it was a remix of a remix!

CONCLUSION

The conclusion is very simple: You just heard a classic. The jewel behind the Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang kung fu film sample was saying ‘don’t bite our sh!t’… eventually that was unavoidable. A lot of artists and producers that came out since then were influenced by the Wu-Tang in some way or another. Many have paid homage, from Cilvaringz to Drake to even De La Soul who are legends in their own right. For me personally, I am known by the name ‘Wu-Tang’ in the barbershop because I rock Wu-Wear and I used to put a Wu tape in their system and blast away. Then in the social media era, I have connected with the most beautiful fans around the world. So I can’t understand why some people use it just to create drama and be uncivilised. Some fans on my page have even met the clan and chilled with them, took photos the lot, what I’ve achieved I’m most proud of, even though it feels like nothing in comparison, GZA took my camera at a show while performing and recorded the fans in the venue. I greeted Inspectah Deck and told him how much of a great show he put on and he told me that he appreciated that. I’ve become one of many Wu Fans that have held Method Man afloat during a stage dive. Even though that was physical connections, whatWU-JAMAICA happened on twitter had me the most star struck. One day I discovered that Ghostface Killah was following me on twitter. I thought it was a fake, then I realised it was the verified account. This is the man who I praise as my favourite MC of all time.

…and it all started with THAT SYMBOL. WU-TANG CLAN: SALUTE.

Michael Grant – CEO of RePPiN 4U

SUPERSTARS OF HIP HOP – METHOD MAN, REDMAN & BUSTA RHYMES @ Eventim Apollo, November 2, 2013

Method Man Redman Busta Rhymes Live‘WOW’. There is no other way to start this article than saying simply… WOW. What happened on this night was hip hop history. Other than Rock The Bells, these three emcees have NEVER stood on the same stage… UNTIL NOW. If there was a hip hop show that was more unmissable than all members of the Wu-Tang Clan coming together, it was THIS ONE. Upon this show’s announcement, it received mixed opinions from social media: Either it is the sheer excitement of seeing three of the most respected emcees of all time for a reasonable affordable price, or the skeptical reaction, doubts that one of them won’t turn up, or the fact that Busta Rhymes is now signed to YMCMB, and he’s no longer the same person that rocked Notting Hill Carnival in 1997. On this occasion, the doubters are wrong. DEAD WRONG. And now they are kicking themselves. BIG TIME.

Upon arrival of the Eventim (formerly known as Hammersmith) Apollo, the queues were set up as if you waiting for the new Smiler ride at Alton Towers or The Saw ride at Thorpe Park. It’s a simple philosophy; If you turn up early and secure your parking spot, you have a better chance of getting the best view – at the front. So why do ignorant humans think that they can push thru with pints in their hands??? Maybe that question was already answered.

The time management in the venue was very good, but not great. As it opened at 7pm, the DJ played quality hip hop to warm up the set nicely. As it hit 8pm, the opening acts began, it was a great chess move by the promoters to have four opening acts as opposed to one or two, usually after one opening act the crowd get very restless, checking the twitter or Facebook or instagram, and it feels like a millennia before the main event starts.

Knowing who their main eventers are, all four opening acts exploded onto the stage with immense energy, all with their flavour of hip hop, grime, beatbox, b-boy and dance hall, with 15 minute sets each. Notable mentions go to Clencha and Birmingham female MC Lady Leshurr who rocked the crowd and took full advantage of the energy and presence that the three MCs had that night.

Before the fans knew it, the clock struck 9 and all the crowd heard was Method Man’s voice before his physical being came through onto the stage with Redman opening with their Blackout! 2 hits ‘Errbody Scream’ and ‘A-Yo’… it wasn’t long before they went into their classics.

Highlights go to Redman when he tells the crowd if they are guilty of the most nasty things he couldRedman live think of before commanding the crowd to say ‘F**K You Redman’!!!! And then he would look disgusted….as if to say, why are you dissin’ me for?? Before he would go into his Doc’s Da Name 2000 hit – ‘I’ll Bee Dat!!!’ The other highlight would be when he performed his first hit single ‘Time 4 Sum Aksion’ The capacity crowd in the Eventim Apollo blew up. It’s amusing how fans think they can still film jumping and down like that, obviously they must have money to buy a brand new camera the next day in case their current one dropped out of their hands… Redman is a straight comedian on stage, and he knows it. It’s a wonder why he didn’t jump in the crowd like his tag-team blunt brother…. who ended up changing his shirt and tightening the belt on his jeans after women nearly succeeded in ripping his clothes off as he was crowd surfing!!!

As a fan of wrestling himself, crowd surfing is Method Man’s signature move. Every single time he performs, he will stand on the hands of fans, performing ‘M.E.T.H.O.D. Method Man diveMan’ before doing that dive. It will always be a highlight every single time. It’s an unwritten achievement for every Wu fan to have held Method Man afloat. Even though Meth claims to hate it, he knew full well that the women came to see him out of the three… the women love the track, the guys love the RZA Razor Sharp Mix of ‘All I Need’. It’s always good to see Streetlife make a surprise appearance and perform ‘Grid Iron Rap’ before Meth ‘Brings The Pain’. regular Wu gig followers see this combination coming but is always magic when it happens. The crowd went insane when the Blunt Brothers performed ‘Y.O.U.’ complimenting each other’s fast flow over the Erick Sermon funky beat.

A one hour set is simply not enough for these two… maybe they should have performed the original ‘How High’ track instead of ‘Part 2’, but the science behind it was to hint that a ‘How High 2’ Movie is in the works as according to Redman on the show. Finishing off with ‘Da Rockwilder’, they announce that the ‘main event’ was still to come…. a frightening thought considering they just electrified the crowd.

Let’s be real, there is NOT ONE hip hop artist that can out-perform Busta Rhymes. Some of come close, but can never dethrone the dungeon dragon himself. It is an unwritten rule in hip hop that when it comes to posse cuts, Busta Rhymes ALWAYS comes last to rhyme. If Busta is on your track but he’s not last (except Flipmode Squad), chances are your track won’t be a classic. There has only been one instance where that happened but it’s not considered a classic but more like a hidden gem and that is ‘The Points’ from The Panther Soundtrack.

Busta’s set started with that apocalyptic scenario (no pun intended) to get the crowd hype, and when he exploded on the stage Extinction Level Event style with ‘Everybody Rise’ that alone was enough to make anyone lose their voice. The striking difference upon his arrival was the absence of the original hype man – Spliff Star. This new hype man was unrecognizable to many, within two minutes of being on he took off his shirt hoping to impress the ladies. Whether that happened or not is a different story. He would be later identified as Reek da Villain. Following in Spliff’s shoes is not easy, and Reek had a hard time pulling it off. Simply put, there is NO ONE like Spliff. It sounded odd hearing Reek reciting Spliff’s rhymes on ‘Make It Clap’.

Highlights of the night included Busta putting the women on BLAST Jamaican Patois style! How did they manage to forget Mariah Carey’s lyrics in ‘I Know What You Want’??? The look on Busta’s face was priceless when he realised the women couldn’t sing along… maybe they were there hoping to ‘Twerk It’ on stage. Busta ranted about getting the album budget, the studio time, hooking up with Mariah, his deal with J Records, and the women couldn’t master those few lines. The guys wereBusta Rhymes live in hysterics, while the women felt had to laugh in embarrassment. He told them how the guys put it down – AND THEY DID – when ‘Woo-Hah!! Got You All In Check’ and ‘Scenario’ blasted through the Eventim Apollo, and women wonder why guys suddenly made the venue a widespread mosh pit. It was Notting Hill Carnival 97 all over again.

Just as Red & Meth did their ODB tribute set earlier in the night, Busta went in with his J Dilla tribute set. Only true heads joyfully recited the lyrics of ‘Enjoy da Ride’, ‘So Hardcore’, ‘Live It Up’ and ‘Show Me What You Got’ respectfully in Dilla’s honor. Once again Busta noticed the uneducated fans who dismissed the Anarchy album which is highly underrated by RePPiN4U standards, and told them if they don’t know their J Dilla, Go Home And Do Their Homework!!! It was safe to say there were a quite a number of undergraduates in the building.

An hour set isn’t enough for Busta either, he didn’t care about the curfew, nor did the fans, and he just kept going. Right in the middle of ‘Party’s Goin On Over Here’ the Eventim management suddenly turned off the music and Busta’s mic, and the crowd response was irate. Busta took his mic and threw it across the stage. Busta knew he was wrong, and the management knew they were wrong. They gave Busta another mic so that Busta can apologize for his actions, but at the same time express that he, Redman and Method Man have been recording artists for over 20 years and they had continuous hits between them, which is why the time management was good but not great. Eventim need to improve on their closing time. The Nas & Damian Marley set at the 02 Academy in Birmingham started at 9 and didn’t end til after midnight. Red & Meth joined Busta on stage and what took place was HISTORY. Heartfelt hugs and embraces was the alternative finish to Busta’s original plan. Usually gigs are a 90 minute – two-hour set. Red & Meth knew that as energetic and as explosive their set was, they knew they could never go on after Busta.

All in all, it was an EPIC night and one for the ages. Show no sympathy to those who missed it because of lame excuses or they spent their Facebook time playing Bubble Saga or Bejeweled Blitz, or focussing their account around drama and act like they didn’t know, or even doubted the stars turning up. It’s a show that we may never see again, and for those who seized the opportunity and witnessed history, TAKE A BOW.

Method Man Redman Busta Rhymes

METHOD MAN, REDMAN, BUSTA RHYMES: SALUTE.

ENDEMIC ‘High Society’

EndemicI live for hip hop, die for hip hop. If that is the Terminal Illness I am diagnosed with, then I am happy to live out my remaining days on this earth, and there is No Cure!!! If there is, I don’t want to know of its existence or acknowledge it. I think UK producer Endemic feels the same way with his latest album that is slated to drop November 26, Terminal Illness 2, The sequel to his 2009 Money Maker /EMI release.

The first single’s title ‘High Society’ tells the listener what Endemic’s album says on the tin: His artists featured are indeed ‘High Society’. This track features ferocious performances by Tragedy Khadafi, Ruste Juxx & Afu-Ra over a banger to make your head bang and your neck snap effortlessly. Queens rapper Tragedy holds the talented producer in high regard: “Endemic is more than a beat maker or producer; he actually understands how to marry an MC to his sound, that’s more than hip hop – that profound!”

Endemic explains how this track was originally meant to appear on Tragedy Khadafi’s next album before he added extra seasoning on the new single: “This song was started when me &endemic1 Tragedy Khadafi started to work. He actually wanted to do the whole song and use it for his next album but I loved the beat and wanted it for TI2. It has that kind of vibe, we then confirmed Ruste & Afu to get on there and you have a potential NYC classic joint!”

Apart from these guys, the album sees appearances from Masta Killa, Roc Marciano, Cappadonna, Planet Asia, Skyzoo, DJ Switch, Bronze Nazareth, Kevlaar 7, Salute Da Kidd, P.R. Terrorist, Killah Priest, Hell Razah, Shabazz The Disciple, Bugsy Da God, Cyrus Malachi, Tesla’s Ghost, Ray Vendetta, Sav Killz, Supreme, Darkim be Allah,Prodigal Sunn, William Cooper and M9. Endemic has confirmed that “There will definitely be a part 3 to complete the trilogy!”

This is a who’s who of respected emcees who regard Endemic as one of the UK’s foremost producers next to Adam F. Be sure to get your diagnosis from your GP November 26!!!

Tracklisting:

01. Intro Ft. DJ Switch
02. King’s Indian Attack Ft. Masta Killa, Cappadonna, Bronze Nazareth & DJ Switch
03. High Society Ft. Tragedy Khadafi, Ruste Juxx & Afu Ra
04. Purple Hearts Ft. Bronze Nazareth, Kevlaar 7 & Salute da Kidd
05. Royal Flush Ft. Planet Asia, Ruste Juxx & DJ Switch
06. Capos Ft. Roc Marciano, P.R. Terrorist & Kevlaar 7
07. Outbreak [Interlude]
08. Babylon Reload Ft. Killah Priest, Hell Razah & Shabazz the Disciple
09. Political Criminals 2013 Ft. P.R. Terrorist, Bugsy da God & Cyrus Malachi
10. Circle Makerz Ft. Tesla’s Ghost & Ray Vendetta
11. Calisthenics Ft. Tragedy Khadafi, Sav Killz & Bugsy da God
12. Elite [Interlude]
13. Cardinal Ft. Supreme, Darkim be Allah & DJ Switch
14. 20/20 Vision Ft. Tragedy Khadafi, Skyzoo, Kevlaar 7 & Salute da Kidd
15. Diamond Knights Ft. Prodigal Sunn, William Cooper & M9

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