The Wu-Tang Clan is an American rap group from Staten Island, New York that consists of RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard. They are frequently joined by fellow childhood friend Cappadonna, a quasi-member of the group.
For GZA, a major challenge is convincing skeptics for whom hip-hop and an academic subject like physics seem incompatible. "It's gonna sound so boring to most people," the rapper said. "There have been times when I've been told, 'Oh, you're doing an album about physics? I hope it's not boring.' They don't get the idea. Because rappers are so one-dimensional, so narrow-minded, it comes off corny."
Yet despite homophobic lyrics, Five-Percenters, particularly members of the Wu Tang Clan, have been rap leaders with regard to participation in AIDS benefits, some of them sponsored by gay organizations. Five-Percent rappers Mobb Deep, Pete Rock and the Wu Tang all participated in the album, America is Dying Slowly, released in June 1996, whose proceeds go to fight AIDS.
At the time, the genre was dominated by west-coast rappers and G-funk, with Dr Dre and Warren G creating hypnotic, synth-heavy summer anthems that usually involved someone driving a convertible that "bounced" in the video. By November of that year, Wu-Tang Clan's classic debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), had cast a long shadow with its lyrical wordplay referencing everything from martial arts movies to darkly humorous threats of violence. They were in complete contrast to what was popular, with classic soul samples eerily interwoven with aggressive, gritty beats and early press shots featuring all nine members hidden behind makeshift masks.
Kung-fu's influence on hip hop has been around since the '70s, when B-boys busted Bruce Lee moves while break-dancing. But in 1993, gritty rap supergroup the Wu-Tang Clan released Enter the Wu-Tang (36-Chambers), the first chart-topping album to kick up raw rhymes with dialog sampled from underground Hong Kong flicks.
The Clan built itself up from an underground New York City Hip-Hop group to the internationally famed band of musical gurus they are today by consistently providing fans with revolutionary sounds and styles. Long-time Wu-followers remember the Clan exploded onto the scene with an unusual marketing technique when compared to the flashiness of Puff Daddy.
In November 1993, Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers was released with "critical success". The album did not become a hit until the song "C.R.E.A.M." was released; "Cash Rules Everything Around Me."
[GZA's] first album, "Words From the Genius," failed to make a splash in 1991. Two years later, he and eight friends—including two cousins, who would become the RZA and [ODB]—released "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)," a critical entry in the hip-hop canon.
In 1992, an underground track, "Protect Ya Neck", emerged from boomboxes to radio stations and made an impact on rap that was unique up to this point. Avowed students of the mental (or Shaolin) aspect of the martial arts and Islam, and rabid fans of kung-fu films, [the Wu-Tang Clan] once again attaches an Afro-Asiatic discipline to the art of rhyming.
He may have been born Robert F. Diggs of Brooklyn, New York, but the world knows him as The RZA, hip-hop's resident wise man and co-founder of the Wu-Tang Clan, one of the most influential rap groups of all time... Not only is The RZA a Grammy-winning producer, he is an author, an actor, a chess fiend, the composer of film scores for movies like "Ghost Dog" and "Kill Bill."
The Wu has [since the release of 36 Chambers] sold nearly 6 million albums, all featuring snippets from producer RZA's personal collection of action imports — which boasts more titles in the genre than the Library of Congress. "The people who made these movies didn't know how much one sentence could inspire," says RZA, who also scored Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill saga and other films.