September 6th, 2006
Legend of the Wu-Tang is a chronology of hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan’s signature videos beginning with their first release, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in 1993, to the release of Iron Flag in 2001. The chronology ends in 2004 with the song “Old Man” by Masta Killa, featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard and RZA (all three are members of Wu-Tang Clan)–the final release from Ol’ Dirty Bastard who died later that same year. Also included is Enter the Wu-Tang, a 21-minute previously unreleased documentary from 1994.
The DVD showcases videos from some of the Wu-Tang Clan’s most influential albums: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993), Wu-Tang Forever (1999), The W (2000), and Iron Flag (2001). Beginning with six videos from their first album, Legend introduces a Wu-Tang fan to the essentials of Wu: the identities of the Clan’s nine founding MCs, the song “C.R.E.A.M.” (Cash Rules Everything Around Me), and Wu-Tang’s references to Hong Kong action cinema and Samurai films.
The next three videos, from 1999’s Wu-Tang Forever, feature much better production, a factor often expected in the transition from a debut album to a sophomore effort. Videos of this period also begin to feature more dancing women, more crowds and live performances, and more money being flashed and passed around.
With the release of The W in 2000, the Wu-Tang Clan began to create more dramatic videos. Featured on this segment of the DVD are “Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off),” “Gravel Pit,” and “Careful,” all three of which focus on similar themes of time travel and authenticity. In “Protect Ya Neck,” the Clan travels in a club elevator back to 1988 in which all of the MCs wear ‘80s rap styles and make fun of LL Cool J. In “Gravel Pit,” they travel in the same elevator back to 2,000,000 BC, arriving in some vague African past where they encounter dinosaurs, diamonds, gambling, and dancing women. “Careful” is essentially a gun fight in a club in which LL Cool J and many others are shot and killed. This segment concludes with a video featuring Issac Hayes in which Wu-Tang MCs Ghostface Killah and RZA mourn the violent, turbulent state of the United States.
After a final video in this chronology from the album Iron Flag, the 1994 documentary Enter the Wu-Tang begins. This portion is confusingly mislabeled on the liner notes on the back cover of the DVD, which indicates that two bonus videos, an alternate version of “Method Man” and “Old Man,” should come before the documentary. However, these two videos occur after the documentary in the sequence of chapters on the DVD. The documentary includes footage from a live performance in 1994, as well as group and individual interviews. Speaking from the group and in the individual interview, Genius, or GZA, relays Wu-Tang’s hip hop philosophy. He explains that as a Clan, they are “lyrical assassins” with a “sword style of rapping.” To them, the tongue is symbolic of the sword, and with the utterance of the sound “wu,” the tongue makes the sound of wind, the sound made as a sword comes towards the neck. GZA also briefly references the group’s grounding in Islam, mathematics, and Five Percenter ideology.
Fans will thoroughly enjoy this new video compilation and will also appreciate the documentary, which highlights the role of each MC in the group. Legend of the Wu-Tang makes clear the Wu-Tang Clan’s profound and lasting influence in the hip hop music industry.
For further information: Felicia M. Miyakawa. 2005. Five Percenter Rap: God Hop’s Music, Message, and Black Muslim Mission. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. (A study of the musical, historical, and cultural elements and impacts of Five Percenter ideologies in hip hop.)
Posted by Denise Dalphond
Review Genre(s): Rap and Hip-Hop