How 25 years of the Wu Tang Clan created a hip-hop cult

How 25 years of the Wu Tang Clan created a hip-hop cult
Photo representing WU-TANG CLAN: OF MICS AND MEN. Pictured: RZA, Method Man, GZA, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, Cappadonna and Mathematics. (Photo credit: Kyle Christy / SHOWTIME)

In anticipation of the release of the Showtime four-part limited docuseries “Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men” on Friday, May 10, 2019, and a screening with all living members in attendance on April 25, 2019, during the Tribeca Film Festival (limited tickets still available), we compiled a list of 10 classic Wu-Tang Clan songs that changed hip-hop.

“Bring The Pain” – Method Man. The first single from the first solo Wu-Tang project, it inspired the name of the Chris Rock HBO special with the same name two years later in 1996.

“Brooklyn Zoo” – Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Few hip-hop songs ever have the level of energy ODB brings in the first single off his first solo album, the second solo project released by a Wu member.

“Can’t It Be All So Simple” – Wu-Tang Clan. Using a sample from “The Way We Were” by Gladys Knight & the Pips, the fourth single off the debut album from the collective cemented the RZA as a producer who can create dope tracks from scratch or dig in the crates and use a dope sample.

“C.R.E.A.M.” – Wu Tang Clan. “Method Man recites the hook “Cash rules everything around me cream get the money, dollar dollar bill y’all,” which became an anthem for mid-’90s dope boys and aspiring moguls alike.

“Ice Cream” – Raekwon the Chef. With cameos from Method Man on the hook, Ghostface Killah spits lyrics with that summertime swagger you only wish you had! Celebrating women of different cultural backgrounds, the song inspired women to proclaim themselves “Chocolate Deluxe,” “French Vanilla” or “Butter Pecan.”

“Method Man” – Wu-Tang Clan. The second single from the collective was the B side from the first single and the first and only solo single on the debut album. The catchy hook “M-E-T-H-O-D Man” was infectious and helped establish Meth as a budding hip-hop star.

“Protect Ya Neck” – Wu-Tang Clan. With the lyric “I smoke on the mic like Smokin’ Joe Frazier,” arguably the most influential hip-hop group was introduced to the world. All nine original members spit verses on the song with their distinctive styles that landed each a solo record deal.

“The What” – The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Method Man – Off of his debut album, Biggie and Method Man traded hot sixteens on this song that won Meth Hip-Hop Quotable from The Source magazine, an honor Biggie didn’t win while living.

“Triumph” – Wu-Tang Clan. The first single from the second album from the collective, this song introduced Ol’ Dirty Bastard as Osiris, one of his numerous monikers.

“I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By” – Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige. The collaboration between Meth and the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul was a modern version of the Motown classic “You’re All I Need To Get By” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, but the song actually contains an interpolation of the Aretha Franklin hit “You’re All I Need To Get By.”

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