(Ed. Note: 4th Disciple, legendary producer for the Wu Tang Clan and their affiliates, is going to join us this week on Bubble N’ Blow Radio to discuss his new project. In preparation for that interview, this is now “Wu-Week” here at Bubblehedz.com. We hope you enjoy our perspectives on the legendary group!)
What a task. There are THOUSANDS (I mean I didn’t count them, but there have to be thousands) of songs involving some configuration and representation from the Wu Tang Clan. Admittedly, I am not the B Side junkie that many of my readers are. There are so many off-shoots, European releases, Mixtape tracks etc., that I simply have no way of keeping track of all of the songs I’ve heard from them over the years.
When talking about favorite songs from a group, all-time, I have a steadfast rule: It should be one of the first ones that pops in your head. If you hear the hits first, and then an hour later tell me that some obscure song that you haven’t thought about in forever is their best work, I take issue to that. If it’s the best song, why isn’t it que’d up first in your brain? For example, when I think of Biggie, immediately “Hypnotize” plays in my head. Was that his best song- I dunno. I can point to better lyrics. There are better beats. He had bigger hits like “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems”. But “Hypnotize” is forever linked to Biggie in my mental playlist- and therefore, I consider that to be the best song by Biggie.
So what song popped in my head immediately when I sat down to write this article? As weird as this sounds, it was “All That I Got Is You” by Ghostface. I can’t even believe it myself. I haven’t listened to that song in years. I would never imagine that when conjuring up Wu bangers, that one would pop in first. But that song is still one of the most raw, descriptive glimpses into growing up in the hood that we’ve ever heard. When he talks about sleeping 4 deep in the bed and nobody wanting to sleep with poor John John because he “wet the bed”, it was this unifying lyric that tied all of us together. Everyone, from rich kids in Belaire to Hillbilly’s in West Virginia had a John John (There was even a sleepover for me one time where I was John John. No one wanted to sleep with me after that either!).
The song just resonated with me. So to me, that might be my favorite Wu Track ever.
But for purposes of this article I had to break my rule. I approached it like I was a curator of a museum, and if I had to just pick one song for people to listen to in order to get the essence of the Wu Tang movement, what would it be.
To me, it couldn’t be a solo song, because the Wu was about strength in numbers.
It also had to be from something that came out early in the process. When Wu dropped, they were such a force. They sounded like the struggle. Like they just happened to have a microphone on them when they were do stick-ups. Had to capture that.
Had to be a RZA track. Nothing happens without RZA- with all apologies to our coveted guest for Wu Week, 4th Disciple.
And so, in line with that criteria, there is a track buried deep on the “36 Chambers” album that I think is the Tangiest Wu track of all time:
Wu-Tang 7th Chamber, Part II
You don’t even remember it. Most of you are headed to YouTube or iTunes right now to check out which track it is. Hell, I didn’t even remember the name of it. But the baseline hit me in the head. And then I remembered- it was my favorite track on that album that I never remembered.
I’d hop in the whip and play “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man”. Everyone bumped “C.R.E.A.M.” like crazy. “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'” and “Protect Ya Neck” were the singles. But when I was along and just riding around, I’d stumble onto “7th Chamber Part II”. And it got me everytime. And if there was ever a track that exemplified the movement that’s it.
First of all it had everybody on it. It’s hard to find great tracks with all of the members because you have to have 10 minutes to squeeze them on. “Triumph” is of course, well, a triumph, and they all sound great on the song. But “7th Chamber” is the Wu at it’s most raw. It sounds like those legendary sessions you hear so much about. It sounds like a bunch of guys were sleeping on the floor of a studio, RZA finished the track and instructed them to fight to the death in the booth. It’s not the best mix. The track is distorted. The lyrics fade in and out. There’s no structure. It’s just a beat and rhymes. It’s so dark and ominous. It sounds like the sonic equivalent of a dirty boxing gym in New York City, where the top prospects and “next to blows” sweat it out for hours in hopes that they get noticed!
To me, it sounds like what we all loved about the Wu Tang. It’s before the money. It’s before we even knew what they looked like! It’s before the million dollar tapes and the avant garde art movies. It’s before “How High”. It’s even before “The Show”. It’s the infancy of one of the most influential movements in the history of pop culture, let alone hip hop. And it’s all of them. Everyone. Before the petty set in. Before they knew Meth was a star and Dirty was a martyr. Before the Illuminati set him up. Before Rae had Wallaby’s and Ghost had a ridiculous falcon on his wrist.
This… is the Wu.
The BubbleHedz had their own opinions, of course!
Derrick Mackenzie, Founder of the Ohio Hip Hop Awards weighed in with “Milk The Cow” by Cappadonna. It should be noted that he thought I was just looking for favorite songs by Wu “Affiliates”, not actual Wu members. Still a dope track I’d never heard so I’m glad for the miscommunication!
Steven Royal put me in the wayback machine with “Camay” by Ghost feat. Rae and Cap. How could I have forgotten that banger?
Jahlawl El Dean, a dope producer in his own right and one of the biggest Wu Headz I know hit me with Killarmy “Wu Renegades”. When 4th sampled the M.A.S.H theme song “Suicide is Painless” later on the album on the cut “5 Stars” it changed my life. Maybe he can speak on it Thursday?
Tiffany Zupka picked up on my posse cut vibe and hit me with “Triumph” but did mention “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'” as a close second!
Essex Davis said “Tearz” still gives him goosebumps!
And Chris Robinson chimed in with C.R.E.A.M., which is of course iconic.
Who would have thought that 20 years later we’d still be talking about the group in such high regard. I talked to Inspectah Deck about the fact that his group’s shirts hang on the racks of Wal Marts and Targets across America and he just laughed. “It’s truly unbelievable. We are right there with the Rolling Stones and The Beatles.”
Bruh- I’ve never once blogged about The Beatles.
Wu Tang Forever.
Catch 4th Disciple Live on Bubble N Blow, Thursday May 18th at 8:00pm EST at http://www.voiceitradio.com!