SCHOOL OF SHAOLIN: Movie Premiere @Pop Brixton, December 11, 2017!

Director: Nick Donnelly

SHOWN AT POP BRIXTON, LONDON December 11, 2017,

ALSO SHOWN AT GORILLA, MANCHESTER, December 19, 2017

REVIEW BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U & International Rep for Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition

“People Say, Love is just an energy, dealing with the claim…”

The very first thing I must do is give thanks and praises to a former university colleague of mine – Karl Hughes. That man didn’t have to look out for his fellow peers, but he chooses to out of the goodness of his heart. If it wasn’t for him, would the RePPiN4U HIP HOP SHOW have manifested? Or more importantly, would I have been involved in something monumental and historic such as this?

School of Shaolin2Ever since the success of Straight Outta Compton, Wu-Tang fans in particular have been clamoring for a similar cinematic treatment for their favourite team. So far we have the upcoming biopic about Ol’ Dirty Bastard entitled ‘RAW’, Hell Razah has been promoting his real life documentary (Risen: The Story of Chron Smith) for the longest, and just patiently waiting for the perfect time to strike which could be sooner than you think. But just like the clan emerging from the shadows in 1993, Director Nick Donnelly wasn’t trying to wait like everybody else.

Filmed in 2013, this was celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Hip Hop’s most influential dynasty. The unique selling point of this movie was the fact that it was a UK spin on how the 10 men with Witty Unpredictable Talent And Natural Game impacted the fan-base and artists out here in the UK and Europe (this whole Brexit thing is really confusing). Donnelly closely follows the clan during their anniversary tour and crams it all in a 95 minute feature. I had the honor and privilege to be invited to see the premiere before an intimate crowd down at Pop Brixton as a part of the Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition. It was an opportunity that was an eyelash of going wrong because of the heavy snowfall, but in London, not a snowflake was seen.

Highlights in the film include footage of RZA during a sound check process before a show which was highly intriguing, following a young female DJ who now travels with Raekwon for shows, UK artist Yung Meth, who has been endorsed by Method Man himself, what is interesting here is that Yung Meth feels that although he is gaining credible success, he feels that America would gravitate towards him more. He also makes a point of not sounding American, something rookie UK artists fall in the trap of doing hoping to make their music relevant. Donnelly also speaks to the Clan’s tour manager Simon Green and how he got involved and possibly landing a dream job, talking to Leaf Dog of The Four Owls, who actually produced on U-God’s Keynote Speaker album – a funny moment in the film occurs when Leaf Dog makes a parody of the commercial side of what mainstream media calls ‘Hip Hop’ and has the audience in Pop Brixton (and possibly Gorilla too) chuckling along, he also speaks with producer Statik Selektah, and hanging out with Ghostface Killah shopping, further showing Iron Man’s down to earth nature and further proving that just like he said in the Pretty Toney album, ‘God is his bodyguard’

School of Shaolin crowd

Photo taken courtesy of Nick Donnelly

“Let me tell you what they gon’ try to do
And y’all remember the sh!t, y’all gon’ tell the f***!ng world
Teach all the babies and sh!t
They gon’ try to make black and white go against each other
Which they can’t because we already having a good time!” (Ol Dirty Bastard, If What You Say Is True, 2017)

With this feature, Donnelly went IN with his research with not just the clan but with everyone featured in the documentary. After 95 minutes elapsed, both sold out venues gave a standing ovation, which was something Donnelly was not expecting. Some die-hard fans thought while they enjoyed the film, they learned nothing from it, on the opposite side of the spectrum the film made some members of the audience NEW Wu-Tang fans in the process which has to be most surprising.

If there was a negative to be pointed out, was that maybe the pace of the film slows down in places where Wu-instrumentals could have been used as a music bed as a means of fair use. But that is a minor. As stated earlier, people came into the venue not knowing a thing about the Wu-Tang and left the building as Wu-Tang fiends, and that’s what the School of Shaolin truly achieved, expanding, getting more pupils so that the knowledge can spread.

Take a bow Nick Donnelly, you have helped put the UK Hip Hop scene on the map even more with this, and now you got other cities worldwide interested. Now that’s a snowball I can get behind.

November 2018 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Wu-Tang Clan. Stay tuned for more announcements of when you can see this film at a theater near you for 2018!

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MASTA KILLA: Loyalty Is Royalty

RELEASED: September 29, 2017, Nature Sounds, Review written by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U & International Rep of Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition

Masta Killa is a man of the people. More specifically, the Wu-Tang fans. He’s that dude that may not come when you call but he’s always on time. He knows what the fans want, and for three albums straight, he has delivered. Fans knew of this album for a good few years now, they expected it to drop in 2012, but instead Masta Killa ‘seemingly changed Masta-Killa-Loyalty-Is-Royaltyjpegthe title of the album to ‘Selling My Soul’ which was a great project drenched with soulful vibes. The title track ‘Loyalty Is Royalty’ would eventually appear on 9th Wonder’s own project and brought HaLo into the mix, which led to the joint project – ‘Mansa Musa’ which dropped in 2014. This was a nice stop-gap to the true destination which is this album right here. Just like the latest projects from Prodigal Sunn, Rez SPS Kings and the Clan themselves, this album couldn’t have come at a better time.

Ming-Hsueh Lin provides the album’s intro, which is a calm but deadly melody, those traits are often used to describe the clan’s laid back but machete wielding member, before diving into a good ol’ boom bap banger ‘Return Of Thee Masta Kill’ with Cappadonna & Young Dudas. Now here’s a guy who has the word ‘Young’ before his name and is a dope MC. So heads take notes, just because somebody has ‘Young’ or ‘Lil’ before their name does not necessarily mean they are wack!

Moving into the album’s title track as mentioned earlier, was brought into existence five years ago, but still sounds as fresh as ever. This is the original version without HaLo, and sees Masta Killa refer to Loyalty as his woman so the track can be taken as a double meaning.

In ‘Therapy’, Masta & Method Man feel the same way as we do as regards to being around this music, and Redman has really molded in well with the clan. 10 years ago, I would laugh at people who said Redman was an official member… I cannot give the same kind of response now.

One thing that is admirable about Masta Killa (and the rest of the clan for that matter) is that these guys are headed for their 50s, and yet, they always have high praise for the Older Gods. Respecting their elders is a powerful trait which must be upheld, such as what this Dame Grease produced single suggests.

RZA chimes in to break down the meaning of Loyalty is Royalty. Let’s hope Phonte of Little Brother doesn’t hear this interlude, as his imitation of RZA in ‘The Story of US’ parody project was one of the most hilarious things ever recorded.

Consider the next track as what I like to call a ‘counteraction’ of Shyheim’s track of the Masta Killa Loyalty Is Royalty2same name. 9th Wonder flips the track ‘Trouble’ slows it down to match the pace of the 9th member of the bunch’s flow.

Masta Killa’s Skit is cruel. It feels so good to have True Master behind the boards, but with it being a minute long, it leaves you begging for more verses. It’s like being on a cooking show or wine tasting show and you can only have one bite.

This is such an album highlight, another Wu Camp Clik or Camp Wu Banga, Sean Price & Masta Killa connect on a 9th Wonder scorcher in ‘Down with Me’. Fans can now practically take these collaborations and create their own playlist on iTunes. Wu-Tang and Boot Camp need to stop the teasing and create that crossover album. Failing that, I sincerely hope Masta Killa convinces Ghostface Killah – ‘executive producer’ of the next Wu album to get 9th Wonder on the production team.

The next track is begging for the visual treatment… Tiger & The Mantice featuring GZA & Inspectah Deck sees producer Blocade tapping into the Wu-Tang sound. When these three get together on a track it is just pure magic. Wu-Massacre 2 anyone? YES PLEASE!

You want more gunplay? Masta Killa will be more than happy to oblige. This time featuring Prodigy & KXNG Crooked in ‘Real People’. Prodigy shows once again why he was far from ready to return to the essence and KXNG Crooked is an unlikely feature to say the least but it works.

If the previous three albums from Masta Killa has taught us anything, is that he will go outside the box and surprise you. ‘Flex With Me’ featuring Chanel Sosa  samples from the classic Scarface movie and flips Mad Cobra’s ‘Flex’ and this goes down really well. With

Chanel Sosa Good Lovin

CLICK HERE FOR CHANEL SOSA WEBSITE

this and ‘Lovely Lady’ from made In Brooklyn, it makes me want to pick Masta Killa’s brains as far as his love for reggae dancehall. Where this was a hit, the next track is a miss. ‘Calculated’ should be called ‘Mis-Calculated’ because this is Masta Killa’s attempt of making a club track with that ‘trap feel to it’ and it just doesn’t work. It also goes on a bit too long as well. At least there is no mumbling. Oh wait… there’s the hook… I stand corrected.

However The High Chief Jamel Irief makes up for that and goes deeper into his Wu Gambino alias – Noodles in a two-part story, the first part produced by !llmind and the second part produced by Masta Killa himself which sees a smooth, moonlight backdrop. With a nice applause at the end, the album ends with a somber piano tone by Ming-Hsueh Lin.

From this point forward, call Masta Killa Mr 2nd Most Consistent member of the clan. (Next to Ghostface Killah). Even with that ‘Calculated mis-step’, it’s understandable that veterans would want to jump on a beat like that to attract newer audiences and show them how it’s done. The most glaring difference between this and it’s predecessors are the album’s producers and features. This time around it seems more star-studded and not just Wu appearances. Masta Killa should find his crown and fix it on his head because it is rightfully deserved.

WU-TANG: THE SAGA CONTINUES

RELEASE: OCTOBER 13, 2017, EOne Music, Review by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U & member of Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition

THE STORY SO FAR:

“If you have a good day, you want A Better Tomorrow, if you had a bad day, you NEED A Better Tomorrow…” (RZA, 2014)

Sounds like RZA had a bad day at the office with the last LP. We all have a bad day at the office at some point or another. He needed A Better Tomorrow… so he told Ghostface, if we gonna form like Voltron again, I want you at the helm. Even at the press conferences for A Better Tomorrow album, when asked if this was the last Clan album, Method Man was the first to pipe up and say emphatically – NO….

wu tang the saga continues artwork maybe…but in August of 2017, the Wu-Tang Clan adopted the Killarmy like approach and emerged like Camouflage Ninjas with a new single – People Say… and took Hip Hop by surprise. Just like that, like an RKO outta nowhere, RZA & DJ Allah Mathematics announce a new album, took to all major radio outlets for interviews where the creator of the Wu logo publicly put his own neck on the line by saying “he studied the 36 Chambers album & Dr Dre’s 2001 and crafted the album based on those two releases.” …and just like that, fans expectations are raised to the highest.

With Mathematics now behind the boards for this one, he starts the album the right way with the Shaw Brothers introduction. Kung fu heads know that when they hear that, they are in for a quality film, and that was Mathematics approach here. Great science behind the kung fu sample chosen as well. To Mathematics, this is a test, he knows the consequences should he fails in this social media driven era, and the clan are out to kill the game on this go round. The Abbott still overseeing the project but keeping his hands away from the boards.

With that said, is it a Lesson Learned? Who better to kick off the album with the Rebel INS? Nice to hear the evil Skhreli himself get a mention in the track and it feels great to have Redman jump in the track with a clan member other than Method Man and share that synergy. It’s a refreshing dynamic. The track flows nicely into ‘Fast & Furious’ with Raekwon and Hue Hef which sees them on the good ol’ Cuban Linx style storytelling tip.

In the hook of Lesson Learned, Redman states that his people don’t play, particularly his tag team partner Method Man who keeps his new curse-less rhyming style ferocious over a smooth beat in ‘If Time Is Money’. It’s almost like a two-part series as Meth continues in ‘Frozen’. His Wu-Massacre brothers jump in the hook, Killah Priest & Chris Rivers go in unfazed. Can’t help feeling that Ghostface’s vocals didn’t sound fresh though, slightly out-of-place but hey – it’s a minor right?

He more than makes up for it in the skit ‘Berto and the Fiend’ which its soulful vibe sounds like it was originally going to make Supreme Clientele 2…

As we enter one of the album’s many highlights: Pearl Harbour where we see yet another Boot Camp Clik appearance in Sean Price who ‘f**ks with Wu-Tang and a couple of new n!&&@$’… the track is so epic that it makes you wish Wu Camp Clik came with an album a few years ago instead of Wu-Block… or is it still possible in the next year? Calling Bernadette Price/Rockness & RZA/Mathematics! Said before in the Sean Price Imperius Rex review and again here – MAKE IT HAPPEN! Rockness himself would have been great on this track too…

…the same could be said for Ghostface Killah on the track that started it all in August 2017! Every MC went in, Mathematics lost his mind with the beat, and when it was released initially, turns out Mathematics still wasn’t satisfied, he went back and made some minor changes as Redman went in! You can hear all the signature sounds Mathematics does here especially when Masta Killa steps in to finish the track.

Big shout out to Shahrazad Ali who drops jewels in the ‘Family’ skit about the importance of the black man in families. I may not be an American Citizen, but going by what’s happening as of late, I say impeach Trump and elect this woman for president.

Then in ‘Why Why Why,’ another album highlight, we see a more hungry RZA rather than the somewhat ‘lazy’ flow we have seen RZA do as of late, here he’s sounding more like ‘The Cure RZA’ rather than the ‘Bobby Digital RZA’. Big up to Swnkah, putting a nice reggae riddim touch on the track.

In G’d Up, Method Man is throwing shots at wannabe Killa Bees… there they are, all over social media claiming they are a Wu-Tang affiliation. It’s a desperate and embarrassing sight… “You ain’t my people, I don’t care if you know RZA/‘Cause at the end of the day
I’m a problem boy, stay out of my way/if you see me in the streets, you better give me my space/And if I beat you to the punch I punch you dead in your face…” With Mzee Jones on the hook, you can hear the Dr Dre 2001 influence Mathematics was talking about.

Ol Dirty Bastard continues to prove he was light years ahead of everybody. at the end of the banger ‘If What You Say Is True’ which also shuts down speculations of GZA’s appearance on the album, Dirty tells the people how the media are trying to bring about a race war. RZA & Mathematics continue their teasing techniques on the Saga skit, wishing a full version of the song exists somewhere in 36 Chambers studios, then this is how it sounds when the Hood Go Bang…a track that makes you wish Red & Meth went in a bit longer.

Finally, with assistance from Steven Lattore, Ghostface encourages RZA & Cappadonna to channel their inner Pretty Toney in ‘My Only One’… directing their attention to the ladies, who probably wish Method Man jumped in on this one.

The album closes out with a great message addressing the young artists doing their thing in music and the older generation who have their constant qualms about their music.

RZA Mathematics quote

Sometimes in mathematics, you don’t find the correct answer straight away, and in this album, it will take quite a few listens for you to absorb everything, and once you have done that, you realise that Allah Mathematics has done a great job here. He has stayed closer to the Wu-Tang sound, and it is a vast improvement over the last LP (A Better Tomorrow) but here’s the twist: To those who had high expectations and were disappointed in this surprise project, on one hand I don’t blame you, because of the way this album has been promoted. This is in actual fact a glorified sequel to Wu-Tang: rza-dj-mathematicsChamber Music and Wu-Tang: Legendary Weapons. If Mathematics put this out with little promotion like he did with his previous projects – (Love, Hell & Right, The Problem and The Answer), the album may have been better received. But because it was promoted like it was a new Wu album of the bat, and because Allah Math modeled off 36 Chambers & Dr Dre’s 2001 in interviews, I can sympathise with you to an extent. Here we realise that fans actually care about U-God who is absent from this project, maybe due to legal reasons at the top of 2017, but this album felt like U-God’s face would have been replaced by Redman via Photoshop in the Wu-Tang Forever album cover. The album also suffers from a not having a full posse cut which has been on every major Wu album. After you get over U-God’s absence, this is a very enjoyable album that will get regular spins alongside Masta Killa’s Loyalty Is Royalty, until the next solo or group project surfaces.

DOM PACHINO LIVE @2Funky Music Cafe, January 29, 2017!

REVIEW WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GRANT,  C.E.O. of RePPiN4U

August 5, 1997. The day Wu-Tang fans around the world was about to experience the flood RZA was talking about on a Tim Westwood show. We had come to an end of the Abbott’s five-year plan. What was coming next from Hip Hop’s most influential collective? A six-man SWAT team called Killarmy. Their debut album Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars, dom-pachino-leicestercontinued the signature Wu-Tang Sound but instead of Shaolin Kung Fu film samples, it was war movie quotes headed by producer 4th Disciple. Along with Sunz Of Man & Shyheim, Killarmy remain one of the most well-known of Wu-Tang affiliates.

Fast Forward 20 years later, and we see Killarmy’ Voltron break down into the lions and have become their own generals in their own right. Dom Pachino a.k.a. P.R. Terrorist in particular has learned from his Wu-Tang brethren, spawned a clothing line, launched Napalm recordings and has his own array of ammunition in artists including Bugzy Da God who performed with him live in the 2Funky Music Cafe in Leicester.

Massive shout out to PC The Producer of FATP (From Across The Pond UK Hip Hop Show) and part of the RePPiN4U administration for opening the night with a unique twist – instead of the usual 90s Hip Hop classics played by most DJs (which is appreciated, by the way) he played a selection of UK Hip Hop and Wu-affiliate cuts which was a true testament to the heads in attendance who travelled from the likes of Nottingham, Wales, all the way from Sweden, and all showed their love to the man who has put UK Hip Hop on his back.

PC would then be joined by DJ Roll Blunt who rallied the fans in attendance as the opening act – Shakezpeare stormed the stage with his high-octane energy and ferocious delivery on the mic performing his set including the Bronze Nazareth produced ‘Train Of Thought’

Half an hour later Bugzy Da God comes through and keeps the momentum going. It wasn’t necessary to use this technique, but Bugzy hit the crowd with his disdain for mumble dps-2rap/trap music by performing ‘Nail In the Coffin’ which is his switch up of Common’s ‘Sweet’. That secret weapon always works. Bugzy was firing on all cylinders with requested 4th Disciple produced tracks, and just in case a few people started to rub their eyes or hide their yawns with their hands, Dom Pachino came out all blazing saddles, telling people to Wake the f- up. Terrorizing his way through his hits, most notably ‘Problem Child’, which he explains is a very personal record, and ‘Napalm’, which is a single with a sure-fire video waiting to dps-1happen from his P.R. Terrorist Vs Dom Pachino project. With the crowd reluctant to go home and even management caught up in the vibe, the 11pm curfew was thrown out the window but Dom ended the set with the track which put Killarmy on the map in the first place – Wu-Renegades.

There were a few hiccups along the way with the decks not playing certain tracks but the professionalism of the performers knew when it was time to drop killer a capella freestyles, which is the backbone to a real emcee. The crowd turnout was also less than anticipated, but maybe it was for the better. After all – like Raekwon says – this show was ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Linx’ and with that in mind Dom, Bugzy and Shakespeare performed like it was a capacity crowd in Glastonbury. That has to be respected.

Look for the coming RePPiN4U Exclusive interview with myself, Dom & Bugzy elsewhere in this blog!

dpi-104

All photographs taken courtesy of KULVADER PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

DJ DONOR: MY KINDA HIP HOP MIXTAPE

Too many people are on your social media are talking about Kanye West Sacramento rant. Too many people are on your social media are talking about Lil Yachty acting a fool. Too many people on your social media are worrying about who is the top 10 MCs on a list that my-kinda-hip-hop-mixtapehas been made viral… it’s a sad sight, it really is. Hip Hop in social media is anaemic right now and it needs a transfusion, and that’s where DJ Donor comes in.

The Wu-Tang Coalition DJ from the Netherlands is here to give his blood type to you in the form of his latest mixtape “My Kinda Hip Hop” which is an hour of the hottest tracks over the past year (Look out for the RePPiN4U 2016 mixtape coming soon by myself and DJ Miss C Brown – Cheap plug but it’s not because I pay those bills…) he is so established, mingling with the likes of Onyx and Mr Funke of Lords of the Underground that Pelle Pelle, Hercules and Saucony are proud sponsors.

Check out the mixtape here after the jump…

dj-donor

Allow this man to donate some good Hip Hop into your veins! Follow him on twitter – @DonorDj

Check out the official website HERE

You can also access the mixtape via these links:

Audiomack:    

http://www.audiomack.com/song/dj-donor/my-kinda-hiphop-mixtape

DatPiff:    

http://piff.me/74b5d2b

 

GHOSTFACE KILLAH: IRONMAN – 20th Anniversary

Released: October 29, 1996, Epic/Razor Sharp Records

Written by Michael Grant: C.E.O. Of RePPiN4U

“To all my house bitches, Starks’ll be home soon
I’m on tour chill, catch me ’96 in June…” – GHOSTFACE KILLAH, Glaciers Of Ice, 1995

Ghostface Killah could never have said those lyrics on arguably a better track on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Everybody has their favourite track(s) from that classic album but I bet a good percentage will say ‘Glaciers Of Ice’, while heads were screwing their faces, head nodding, and goosebumps on their bodies, their mind hit a record skip for that split second realising that Ghostface Killah was preparing for his debut album.

ghostface-killah-ironmanThe debate continues today just like the Pac & Biggie issue, and that is – which is better – Ironman or Supreme Clientele? Personally, I’m a Supreme Clientele guy, and I broke it down in a feature similar to the one you are reading now. But I’m gonna represent for the fans who prefer Ironman.

Once again, I will take you back to a 16-year old Michael Grant, approximately October 29, 1996, the day this album dropped. THIS IS MY STORY. GHOSTFACE KILLAH. IRONMAN. RHYME & REASON.

I had already left school (unexpectedly I might add), I landed a YT training course to become an accountant. NVQ level 2 at the Wolverhampton Chamber Of Commerce. Four days of placement, one day training. There I was all suited up, complete with a briefcase looking like a young man of the future. But on October 29, 1996, I didn’t care for my corporate looking image. I wanted to get those wallabees, that Wu Wear, that Helly Hansen and all that! I just got paid, and the first thing I did was buy this cassette tape. Yes I did it before paying my moms board, before my bus pass, before I even had a trim! I actually waited til I got to my cousin’s house, put the tape on while my cousin was playing Super Nintendo (The Saturn/Playstation costed too much at the time!)

  1. IRON MAIDEN F/ Raekwon & Cappadonna

Now I have never seen the movie ‘The Education Of Sonny Carson’… and maybe I should if it’s Wu-Tang approved. But I was rooting for the boy, I wanted him to put trademarks around the fool’s eye! Then the tune kicked in. GOOD LORD! Raekwon didn’t finish his verse, and I was like – PULL UP THE TUNE! PULL UP THE BLODCLART TUNE! If you are an avid listener of RePPiN4U Hip Hop Show, you would know what I did there!

2. WILDFLOWER F/ Jamie Sommers

First time I heard this, the instruments RZA used instantly reminded me of ‘Chessboxing’. Then I heard the lyrics… me and my cousin’s jaw straight up DROPPED. Before the Wizard of Poetry, before Domestic Violence, there was WILDFLOWER. February 17 was NOT A NICE DAY for Ghostface Killah! You could feel the anger in his voice! Wu-Tang are all about the real life stories… this woman messed up bad! My question is, where is Jamie Sommers in the world today? Answers on a postcard please – tweet me @MZATheInfamous!

3. THE FASTER BLADE F/ Raekwon

This to me sounded like it didn’t make Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, at least that was my impression. One of my questions to add to my list if I ever got the opportunity to interview the Chef himself. At the same time, it doesn’t as gritty as the Cuban Linx tracks, like I dunno, RZA’s music began to evolve because in this album, it’s like the tracks sound a bit more polished.

4. 260 F/ Raekwon

Once again, I never saw the Sonny Carson film, and I can see some of you reading this looking at me funny. Going by the sample, it sounded like the kid embarrassed the gang leader or something. Don’t worry – I will put it on my ‘see list’ now that I got that ‘KODI’ gidgets gadgets…

5. ASSASSINATION DAY F/ Inspectah Deck/Raekwon/RZA/Masta Killa

It was this tune when I learned the album was coming October 29, 1996. One October night prior, I was listening to Tim Westwood on Radio 1, remember back in the days when he played that official hip hop? And his Friday show was on from 11pm til 2am? Well it was one of those shows when he was interviewing the clan – one thing I loved back in that day, was when a solo album was coming out, the whole clan got interviewed. They announced the album release and they played this tune – it was exclusive back then – only Westwood had it. Heard this tune and I was hyped crazy!

6. POISONOUS DARTSthe-mystery-of-chessboxing

True story – this tune actually relates to around December of 1997. Me and my cuz rented ‘The Mystery Of Chessboxin’ (Ninja Checkmate) kung fu film. Now we rented it only because of the film’s title. I said to my cuz, I am pulling out the (landline) phone cord so that NO ONE calls while I’m watching this film! What followed was the samples used for this tune right here, and I lost my mind, jumped out my seat the whole nine and it still stands as one of my favourite ever kung fu films of all time. How can you NOT love the Ghostfaced Killer? Best bad guy ever. He used to say the most out-of-order dialogue in the film “Chow Fan Lun, how are you? You’re gonna die today! Do you recognize this technique? (5 Elements!)” and I was like – WROOOOOOOOOOOY!!!!!!! But then, the film ended, plugged the phone back in, hit ‘1471’ and found out that a good friend of mine just gave birth to her son. I felt like a fool after that, yet at the same time, so happy for her.

7. WINTER WARZ F/ Raekwon/U-God/Masta Killa/Cappadonna

I remember a particular time when me and all my Peoples from Aldersley High School were on the bus, and we were debating which was the best tune on each Wu album, everyone had their favourite and one dude shut us all down – “Winter WAAAAAAARZ!!!!!” Yes – this tune will forever be known as the tune that Cappadonna killed with his 52 bar killer bee assault, and ever since that time, heads were setting for Cappadonna’s debut album. Two years wasn’t long of a wait considering we had Wu-Tang Forever, Killarmy’s Silent Weapons album, and Gravediggaz sophomore album in between. Big up Cappadonna for deciding to make a video for this nearly 20 years later, I love these sort of videos where you just vybin with your peoples and there’s hardly no direction, just roll the tape and go along with it. THAT IS A HIP HOP VIDEO PEOPLE! I just wished it was a full clan video though. I envisioned it being a similar setting to GZA’s Shadowboxing video, all cold and dark and people in that ‘Winter War’, so to speak so it would be like a sequel to that video.

8. BOX IN HAND F/ Raekwon/Method Man

Before there was Wu-Massacre, there was BOX IN HAND! Now at this point, Method Man was still my favourite Wu-member, Ghost was already showing signs that he would become my favourite Wu-member and artist of all time. So I was mad looking forward to this tune. I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed when I first heard this, the intro, I was like – Oh here we go! This gonna be off the hook! Then RZA changed the beat and I was like – aaah… the disappointment didn’t last long though, Method Man went IN!!!! “This rap sh!t bust yo’ gums, and leave you stunned/Pull your plug, now you can’t function/There’s no to-tal or sum to this equa-tion, you fro-zen/Many may come but few are cho-sen/Pretty n!&&@$ want to play the war po-sin/When the ruckus come, they be the first to get their shine stolen/Do or die, it be I, Meta-physical Man/Holding court from my Wu, indivisible clan…”

Now I’m listening to the unreleased version, and I can see why RZA decided to put the other version on, I’m not even sure if Box In Hand when was meant to be the title! Another Wu-Tang Mystery to solve!

ghostface-premium-2-13-2013

If you remember buying the cassette, you may have noticed there was a large gap at the end of side 1 of the tape… like over 5 minutes?! So this is another true story… Wu-Tang released the Triumph single in 1997 and hit the UK top 40. Usually I’m not down with pop music but that was a proud moment for me and hip hop. But on the b-side was the Hidden Chambers Remix of Wu-Gambinos. So what did I do? grabbed some sellotape wrapped it over the protective covering of the tape and recorded Wu-Gambinos Remix on it. Call it an unofficial Bonus Track.

9. FISH F/ Raekwon & Cappadonna

The TRUE MASTER! At the time arguably his best track he produced since ODB’s Brooklyn Zoo. This tune hit the rewind button crazy!!! The spooky thing about this tune is, Cappadonna states, “When RZA do his thing motherf***er, I’mma do mine..” How true is that statement now 20 years later? RZA basically said to Ghost, you’re in charge of the next Wu Album! Has the Abbott thrown in the towel? I hope not. Ghost’s ear is powerful, I’m sure he can still get some bangers out of RZA…

10. CAMAY F/ Raekwon & Cappadonna

Once again we see early signs of Ghost Dini – The Wizard of Poetry here. TELL THE TRUTH – How many of you guys said this to a woman: “Yo you sexy motherf****r, damn what’s the recipe?/You make a n!&&@ wanna god damn!/Can you cook darling?” I can say this: I’ve never said that to a woman outright (I have my shy moments) but I have at least thought it and at the most – sent a text saying that in the past!

11. DAYTONA 500 F/Raekwon & Cappadonna

Confession time – I hated this song at first. Yeah I said it. I thought it sounded like something from Top Gear. But guess what? The tune was in my head and it was telling me – you WILL like this tune! Lo and behold – it worked, and I think the 8 player Daytona game at Sega World Strykers (R.I.P.) played a massive part in it. Normal people heard the Daytona game music. Wu-Tang fans heard this while playing that game and that’s real!

12. MOTHERLESS CHILD F/Raekwon

This was the very first track I heard from the album because this was originally on the Sunset Park soundtrack… remember those days? When tracks from a film soundtrack were hot and was actually relevant to the film? Great shout to Aaron Hall as well… where is he as well? He joined the missing list on the milk carton with Jamie Sommers! Answers on a postcard please!

13. BLACK JESUS F/ Raekwon & U-God

The crazy thing about this is, Wu were speaking 5% terminology from the get go, and it really didn’t clock on to me until this album. Up until October 29, 1996 I was raised to believe that Christianity is THE RIGHT religion. This skit made me think for the first time like whoa… no such thing as Adam & Eve? God exists within me? The black man is God? I was intrigued. Then the beat hit. I was like – PULL UP THE TUNE! PULL UP THE BLODCLART TUNE! RZA came with some church choir crossed with some epic Samurai Showdown type music! And U-God – that man went IN!!!!! To me it was like the longer this album went, the more epic it became.

14. AFTER THE SMOKE IS CLEAR F/Raekwon, RZA, and the Delfonics

I love the hook in this, because I still believe it. After the smoke is clear… Wu-Tang/Delfonics NUMBER ONE! Tunes like this are reasons why we the fans miss the old RZA and not keen on this Bobby Digital persona that he can’t seem to put aside. The Cure album never came, and you know what? Even if it did, people today would still turn round and say hip hop is…. yes the D-WORD.

15. ALL THAT I GOT IS YOU F/ Mary J. Blige

Ghostface says – “this is dedicated, to all those who went through the struggle”… Yep, that was me back at 16…. but nowhere near as bad as Ghost. I made that decision to leave school at 16 and find work because I knew I wasn’t as well off as some of my other peoples. Every year I used to hear them say ‘I went to Jamaica/Cornwall/Spain etc..’ I never stepped out the country until I was 29. Not only do I look back at this tune and think ‘you know what, I was ok, I was instilled with the determination to work hard’, but also I say this is dedicated to all the ‘millennials’ who always claim they are stressed or whatever but there they are updating their Facebook with their iPhone. There they are with their 4KTV hung up in their house, there they are with roof over their head and well fed, quick to order takeaway online every night but cannot roll 2 dumpling to save their life. Thank god for Nas… Life is good!

16. MARVEL F/RZA

You see this tune here? This was the start of the Bobby Digital persona as far as where the music was going. The signs started here. When I first had the cassette tape I didn’t have this as a bonus track though. I have yet to see someone use RZA’s lyrics as a chat up line and see what happen to them! Imagine whispering in a woman’s ear in a club like ‘let me plant my dynamite deep inside your core, the explosion stops your menstruation patiently waiting nine months for deportation…” Yep… I can see that going down well…!!!! By the way Kudos to RZA for keeping the beat going!

17. THE SOUL CONTROLLER F/ The Force MDs

This was the original bonus track I had. I remember my cousin loved this tune! As far as he was concerned, this was his favourite tune on the album… I wasn’t so keen at first, but that happens a lot with me! I’m surprised the sample issues prevented this track appearing on later copies of Ironman though, I mean, it’s been sampled a million times. The skit at the end still holds true, especially if people concern themselves with what we should be listening to on the radio…

GRANTFACE KILLAH

I kinda wished that Ghost was doing something similar to Ras Kass in a sense that he’s celebrating his Soul On Ice 20th Anniversary or Nas when he celebrated Illmatic. Ironman should be up there too. But I’m sure if he doesn’t, we the fans will. At time of this feature, I know he’s on tour with Rae… but according to RZA, Ghost now has the keys to the next Wu-Tang Album…Ghost’s ear has been powerful throughout from Ironman all the way to 12 Reasons To Die Part 2, all this plus Supreme Clientele 2? To those who still talk that Hip Hop dead nonsense, THEY ARE THE PROBLEM as far as I’m concerned.

GZA/GENIUS – LIQUID SWORDS – 20th Anniversary

GEFFEN RECORDS

Release Date: November 7, 1995

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: THE RZA

Written by Michael Grant – C.E.O. of RePPiN4U

What if I told you, that the making of this classic dated back to the year I was born? It might be a 20th Anniversary special but this is 35 years in the making.

GZA_Liquid_Swords_CD_CoverOn November 11, 2015 we mark the 35th Anniversary of Shogun Assassin. A film about a man and his son who escape and go on a violent journey after the wife of the Shogun’s Decapitator was murdered. The violent scenes were ahead of its time and was later banned in 1983 by various countries. It would later resurface in the year 2000 and was available for free for consumers who purchased Kill Bill Vol.1 on Initial DVD release.

I had a friend back in the 90s who was fascinated with banned films and went on a personal conquest to hunt them down. This film was one of them. I must have watched this a few months prior to the release of GZA’s Liquid Swords. After the Raekwon album, I decided to go on my own personal quest: To own every single Wu-Tang release. With the seemingly ever-growing affiliation of Wu Killah Bees, maybe I have underestimated the clan’s domination in Hip Hop.

This is MY STORY. This is the 20th Anniversary of The GZA/Genius – Liquid Swords.

A miserable November night, cassette inserted in the Walkman, full Duracell batteries, headphones over my head with the sellotape on it to hold the phones together, my paper round begins. And as soon as it comes on, I have that ‘Wu-Tang moment again’… Oh Snap – The Wu-Tang have sat down and watched this (Shogun Assassin)! You instantly imagine the Clan actually sitting down and watching the same film you just did, and you’re just mind blown. If you haven’t seen the film RZA samples, you make it your duty it find out which one it was. That was the beauty of being a fan those days and even now.

LIQUID SWORDS

First time I heard this, the album wasn’t out yet. I heard it on my friend’s cassette from the radio. He was raving on about GZA’s new tune, saying the tune is ‘dark’… back then the word dark was slang for ‘good’, like the youth today use the word ‘sick’ as slang for good. I heard it and I LOST IT (my mind). The beat was on some tick-tock-tick-tock business, and the hook has gone on to become one of my favourite hooks of all time. I didn’t even know the tune was called Liquid Swords because the tracks were not arranged in the album inlay. You had to kind of, match the song with the title, and I don’t care what anybody says, you are not a Wu fan if you didn’t fantasize about performing on a big clock (hence the beat) while your friend breaks the wack records across the wall.

DUEL OF THE IRON MIC

My best memory of this was the Wu-Tang Disciples of the 36 Chambers DVD, or you have seen him live. If you haven’t, watch this DVD. Look at GZA while he’s performing this. The man is ‘IN THE ZONE’. Screwface and all. That’s how you gotta be when you’re on the microphone. If that is not your reaction, you’re not hip hop! This tune is major in the Wu shows. Should have been an official video. GZA even said in an interview that this was his favourite track on the album. CASE CLOSED.

LIVING IN THE WORLD TODAY

Sometimes I love when a clansman (in this case Meth) is featured in a cameo but doesn’t actually drop a verse,even though it would be nice if he did. Almost as catchy as the Liquid Swords hook, I like the little touches in this, the ‘Chic-POW!’ in the hook, the emphasis in GZA’s voice when he says the line ‘you’ll be hearing the slang what the WUU-TAANG say’… This was my favourite track on the album at one point. Don’t you just love albums where your favourite track changes almost daily? That’s when you know you got a great album.

GOLD

I could be wrong, but I think this is the album’s most underrated track. Of all the tracks people post on social media, I don’t see Gold posted as much.

Today I learned something fascinating. In that same interview where he talks about ‘Iron Mic’, GZA says the hook was inspired by Diana Ross’ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. For 20 years, I had never clocked on because of the contrast of the two hooks.

COLD WORLD

Funny thing about this was, I had always prefered the remix featuring D’Angelo. But this tune right here was a personal moment. GZA had come to Birmingham Ballroom in February of 2012. He was performing this and he came over to my side, fans reciting the lyrics as we do, I said the line ‘Therefore, your 52 hand-blocks was useless.’, GZA heard me say that, and took my camera out of my hands and filmed himself with us – the Wu-Nited Kingdom/RePPiN4U family. That was the start of the surreal interactivity with the clan that I had… it really feels like the 20 years of being a Wu fan was paying off in an unexpected way.

LABELS

The irony of this tune 20 years later is crazy. Before I get into that, just like Cold World, I prefered the remix over this so admittedly I felt slightly disappointed when this version was on the album initially. The version I heard on radio (Yes people, hip hop existed on radio – I know what you mean by those memes but RePPiN4U is out to crush all that) sounded like a run down sports car on the verge of crashing. The album version sounded a lot more cleaner. Anyway back to the irony. Bear in mind it was over 20 years ago, The first line that comes out of GZA’s mouth – ‘Tommy Ain’t My Muthaf***!n Boy, When he fake moves on a n!&&@ he employ…’ The year is 2015 and Ghostface Killah scored another classic with 36 Seasons, and Method Man received critical acclaim with ‘The Meth Lab’, both released under Tommy Boy Records. But Labels sparked off two things: One, some Wu fans discovered that through that one line, there was a first album entitled ‘Words From The Genius which was released before 36 Chambers and in the process discovered RZA’s first album ‘Oooh We Love You Rakeem’. The other thing it sparked, was the art of name dropping in songs. GZA wasn’t the first to do it but it was the style of how he did it, Publicity from Beneath The Surface was just as good, but Fame in my opinion from the Legend of The Liquid Sword album was the one that did it for me,

4th CHAMBER

I could be wrong here but I think Wu-Tang were the first to fuse two tracks together in a video the point where fans actually wanted that version. Inspectah Deck & U-God are usually credited for being the best posse cut starters (kick off the tune wih the first rhyme). But Ghostface should get props as well. He kicked off 9 Milli Bros on his Fishscale album, Bring The Ruckus from 36 Chambers, and most notably this track. Sometimes I’ve seen Ghost almost forget it’s him that sets the tune off as it drops after the response of capacity crowd jumping up and down as high as they can under RZA’s command.

SHADOWBOXIN’

At this time Method Man was still my favourite Wu-member. This tune dropped along with Wu-Gambinos on Cuban Linx album – I noticed subtle changes in meth’s voice, like he lost a bit of that raspy effect in his voice when he was saying the rhymes. Listen to Meth on 36 Chambers then listen to him on this track and you will see what I mean. TRUE STORY – I was in my last year at school. They installed internet in the school – it was a dial-up connection – OLD SCHOOL! We weROAre supposed to use it in our own time to work on our Record of Achievement – remember that? Back in the day we used to use that to get jobs. I don’t know if the youth today use it, but if they don’t, put it like this: If you had one of these (pictured right) YOUR CHILDHOOD WAS AWESOME!

Back to the story. Me & my school friend (Paul Whittaker) were meant to work on this… we used that time to find the lyrics to Shadowboxin’ and other Wu tracks and that’s how we discovered Ohhla.com (Original Hip Hop Lyrics Archive). We printed off as much as we could til one day we got caught by the teacher… I remember the name – Mr Collett – he said he was gonna take these explicit lyrics and show our parents. 20 years later my moms knows nothing about this… put it that way! He was probably a closet Wu fan himself!

HELL’S WIND STAFF

I think Wu Fans know the story behind this track now…originally a track on the album, it became a skit, and then actually manifested as a track on Wu-Tang Forever. The other question remains – What happened to the ‘Unexplained’? Meant to be  a track on the album but it seemed to have manifested on the Gravediggaz ‘Pick, Sickle, Shovel’ album. Do you know a Don Rodriquez? No? Yes you do. We ALL know a Don Rodriquez. There he is, snitching to Mark Zuckerberg about what you post on your Facebook. Great album sequencing here, as this leads into…

KILLAH HILLS 10304

…with a few references to Tony Starks… We already know Tony and Lou (Ghost & Rae) are the mafioso kingpins of the clan, but it was good to see RZA & GZA put their spin on things, complete with one of my favourite RZA traits which was let the beat ride out, and when you hear that, you hear RZA ‘playing about’ on the keyboard… yeah, I miss those times too.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS

The Wu-Tang have 6 million ways to influence us. Today I don’t say – ‘I’m gonna investigate the problem’, I say (and it happens naturally) ‘I’m making Investigative Reports’, and the summoning of Tony Starks has brought him forth and it couldn’t happen without Rae, with additional support from U-God.

Liquid Swords InlaySWORDSMAN

This was the tune that eventually would become my true favourite on the album, if Bruce Lee explained his theory of ‘Emotional Content’ into song, it would sound like this. Not only could I feel it in GZA’s voice, but I felt the same way. It was haunting, it was thought provoking, and even though past Wu tracks spoke of the 5%, this was the one that caught my attention. I started looking at people different when GZA said the lines –
“I suffered brutal pain, from whips and chains/Punishments that were set to wash the brain/So look listen observe and also respect this jewel/Drawed up, detect and reflect this/Light I shine, because my powers is refined/Through the truth, which manifest through eternal minds…” I love this hook more than the Liquid Swords oneThe hook had me really want to slap people in their face like Batman and it relates up to this day when people try to put your boy down… then it turns out that the real title of this tune was indeed – UNEXPLAINED… which makes more sense but at the same time, ‘They say he’s a Swordsman’…

I GOTCHA BACK

This brings me back to the days of Yo! MTV Raps…those annoying nights when I’m hitting record on the video recorder, cranking the volume up but my moms telling me to turn it down… funny how mom told me crank it up when Lost Boyz ‘Music Makes Me High’ came on! But at this point I didn’t even clock on that a GZA album was coming. As far as I was concerned, this was for the movie ‘Fresh’, and I remember that film as plain as day. Back in the day, Swordsman/Unexplained became my favourite track, after that, admittedly I couldn’t listen to I Gotcha Back… nothing against it, just that Swordsman/Unexplained to me was becoming too personal!

B.I.B.L.E. Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

I never heard this tune til 1998 when Killah Priest dropped his first album – Heavy Mental. I had the cassette tape of Liquid Swords and Cassette tapes didn’t usually have bonus tracks. I didn’t convert to CDs until it was clear that cassette tapes were extremely hard to get in my area. I didn’t even have a CD player. I had to play CDs from my Sega Saturn… I miss that console. I could play a tune such as this and zone out – and when I did, the Sega Saturn’s screen saver was a spaceship travelling through space, remember that? So technically, I read the Basic Instructions Before Leaving earth and then took off in my spaceship!

Congratulations to The GZA for finally making it platinum after 20 years…. but what I wanna know is, if millions of Wu-Tang Fans around the world consider this a classic (and it is…) why has it only gone platinum now? Don’t get me GZA Daggerswrong, RePPiN4U cares not for album sales, but we as fans post about Liquid Swords everyday… some of us consider it a classic over Cuban Linx… surely there are more than a million  Wu fans… and that’s just in the states alone!

Take a bow Gary Grice, it’s all about that Dark Matter now… the salute the man who could be responsible for finally derailing the mighty 50 Cent off his game (Paper Plates). Let’s be real, he hasn’t been the same since that day has he? 50 always loved slaying MCs across the neck with his diss records, he did that to hear that sound of wailing winds, but to have it happen to his own neck, was just…. ridiculous…at least to him!