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Music / Wu-Tang Clan

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"Cash Rules Everything Around Me. CREAM, get the money. Dollar dollar bill, y'all!"

When it comes to hip-hop music, chances are you'll come across the Wu-Tang Clan, a collective of ten (now nine) men reading to throw in some beats and Shaolin/Wu-Tang style.

A Hardcore Hip-Hop group from Staten Island, New York City that has been active musically since 1992, Wu Tang stopped being something to fuck with around the time you heard 'em for the first time, son. Their fame is largely derived from their Signature Style: highly conceptual lyrics with frequent name-dropping of comic books, an obsession with Hong Kong martial arts films (especially older classics from Shaw Brothers) note  and their Crazy Awesomeness.

They ain't nuthin' ta fuck with.

The group's lineup is:

  • The RZA, AKA The Razor, Prince Rakeem, Rzarector, The Abbot, Chief Abbot, Bobby Steeles, Bobby Digital, the Scientist, Prince Delight, Prince Dynamite, Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah (Real name: Robert Diggs Jr.)
    • Wu-Tang Solo Debut: Bobby Digital in Stereo
  • The GZA, AKA the Genius, Justice, Allah Justice, Maximillion (Real name: Gary Grice)
    • Wu-Tang Solo Debut: Liquid Swords
  • Method Man, AKA Meth, Methtical, Shakwon, MZA, Iron Lung, Hott Nikkels, Ticallion Stallion, Johnny Blaze (Real name: Clifford Smith)
    • Wu-Tang Solo Debut: Tical
  • Ghostface Killah, AKA Ghost, Sun-God, Ironman, Tony Starks, Starky Love, Pretty Toney, P Tone, Ghost Deini, The Wallabee Kingpin (Real name: Dennis Coles)
    • Wu-Tang Solo Debut: Ironman
  • Ol' Dirty Bastard, AKA ODB, Dirt McGirt, Dirt Dog, Big Baby Jesus, Sweet Baby Jesus, Mudbutt McMurder, Osirus, Osiris the Father, Joe Bananas, King Bong, Rob Dog, Ol' Dirt Schultz, Hasaan, Old Dirty Chinese Restaurant, Ill Irving the Murderer, The BZA, Ol' Daddy Skidmarkz, The Drunken Master Styles, Ason Jones, Ason Unique, Rain Man, Free Loadin' Rusty, The Man of All Rainbows, (Real name: Russell Tyrone Jones) - Passed away in 2004.
    • Wu-Tang Solo Debut: Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version
  • Inspectah Deck, AKA Rebel INS, Fifth Brother,Manifesto, Rollie Fingers, the Ayatollah (Real name: Jason Hunter)
    • Wu-Tang Solo Debut: Uncontrolled Substance
  • Masta Killa, AKA High Chief, Noodles, Jamel Ireif (Real name: Elgin Turner)
    • Wu-Tang Solo Debut: No Said Date
  • Raekwon, AKA The Chef, Rae, Shallah Raekwon, Lex Diamond, Lou Diamonds (Real name: Cory Woods)
    • Wu-Tang Solo Debut: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
  • U-God, AKA Baby-U, Golden Arms, 4-Bar Killer, Lucky Hands (Real name: Lamont Hawkins)
    • Wu-Tang Solo Debut: Golden Arms Redemption
  • Cappadonna, AKA Cappachino, Donna, Cap, Papi Wardrobe, Diggaler (Real name: Darryl Hill)
    • Wu-Tang Solo Debut: The Pillage


  • Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)
  • Wu-Tang Forever (1997)
  • The W (2000)
  • Iron Flag (2001)
  • 8 Diagrams (2007)
  • A Better Tomorrow (2014)
  • Once Upon a Time in Shaolin (2015, limited release) note 
  • The Saga Continues(2017) note 

"Tropes rule everything around me":

  • Animated Music Video: The video for "Daytona 500". One of the earliest examples that cut anime footage in with the music, the anime here being Speed Racer.
  • The Apprentice: Masta Killa and Killah Priest were both considered this to GZA with them battling each other for the ninth and last spot (at the time) in the group.
  • Arch-Enemy: GZA has held a grudge against record labels since the failure of his first album: Words from the Genius. It shows in his raps, especially in early works.
  • Badass Boast: Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothin' to fuck with!
  • Badass Adorable: Shyheim was a rapper affiliated with the group who was 13-14 years old when he recorded his debut album, AKA The Rugged Child.
  • Band of Relatives:
    • RZA, GZA & ODB - Cousins
    • Method Man & Raekwon - Cousins
    • The familial connections expand for more cousins, children, siblings and adopted relatives with the second and third generation Wu members and affiliates.
  • Batman Gambit: RZA claims the period between 36 Chambers and Wu-Tang Forever to be this, the goal being to take over the hip hop scene.
  • Black and Nerdy: Immensely so. Part of the reasons why they use a lot of comic book nicknames is because they are comic book fans.
  • Blood Lust: Ol' Dirty on Raw Hide.
    "I wanna see blood, whether it's period blood / Or bustin your fuckin face, some blood!!"
  • Boastful Rap: "Protect Ya Neck", for starters. Basically every song in their repertoire has this, in spades.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Ghostface Killah.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Straight from the slums of Staten Island. Wu Tang Clan are also nothing to f with.
  • Buffy Speak: One of the lines in the intro of "Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber": He was layin there with fuckin', all types of fuckin' blood comin' out of his fuckin'...
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: ODB was completely insane, but he was a damn fine rapper.
  • Catchphrase: Too many to be counted, but the best one is "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta F' Wit".
  • Chef of Iron: Raekwon.
  • Chess Motifs: All over the place, but most noticeably on "Da Mystery Of Chessboxin'". The GZA eventually released a chess-themed collab project with DJ Muggs called Grandmasters, with each track being an extended pun on some chess term.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • The RZA is also this to an extent, given that the man basically wrote his own RELIGION.
    • Ghostface Killah, especially due to his latter-career non-sequitur style of rhyming, definitely comes off as this.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Did you expect something else?
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The beginning of "Method Man".
  • Concept Album: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin tends to be seen as this due to it's mystique and the "tale" that as seen from the infamous book that came along with the one album copy.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: A lot of Wu stuff, but especially Raekwon and Ghost's work. Raekwon's debut solo project Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... started of the "Wu Gambino" style of mafioso-themed raps, and is largely credited with kickstarting the Gangsta Rap trend in the first place. GZA's solo album Liquid Swords, on the other hand, delivers some Deconstruction of the romantic image of the gangster lifestyle: snippets of Shogun Assassin interweave with a stark image of life in a bloody, soul-crushing Gangsterland. His Killa Hills 10304 is definitely playing this trope straight.
  • Deadly Game: What the GZA claims drug dealing is like.
    "Who selling cain, I'm giving out a deadly game / it's not the Russian it's the Wu-Tang crushing roulette / slip up and get fucked like Suzette / bring da fucking ruckus."
  • Downer Ending: Ol' Dirty Bastard. He died following an overdose of cocaine and painkillers in 2004. Worse, his cousin RZA was Forced to Watch, powerless to help him.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Normally ODB was violent, aggressive and completely deluded, but he NEVER harmed children. He even saved a girl's life and visited her in the hospital discreetly.
  • The Faceless: Ghostface sometimes.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Ghostface, Cappadonna, and Meth are Sanguine, ODB and RZA are Choleric, GZA, Raekwon and Inspectah are Melancholic, U-God and Masta Killa are Phlegmatic.
  • Friend to All Children: According to ODB.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Masta Killa's monster verse on "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" was supposedly the first rap verse he ever wrote.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • We Usually Take All Niggas' Garments, according to 7th Chamber.
    • Also there's Witty Unpredictable Talent And Natural Game from The GZA's Labels.
    • Cash Rules Everything Around Me, C.R.E.A.M.!note 
    • Taking Into Consideration All Lives
    • Training Is Commitment And Lifestyle
    • Consider All Poor People Acceptable Dont Opress Nor Neglect Anyone
    • According to The RZA, "peace" stands for Protons Electrons Always Cause Explosions.
    • The GZA also rapped the immortal line: "What is the meaning of CRIME? / Is it Criminals Robbin' Innocent Motherfuckers Everytime?"
  • Gangsta Rap: Type 1 plus a fair amount of Type 3. Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... is considered one of the trope makers for Type 4.
  • Genius Bruiser: All the Wu Tang Members fit this, especially RZA, and GZA.
  • Hidden Depths: Turns out Method Man can act, too. Also turns out The RZA is a financial wizard as well as being a hip-hop genius.
    • RZA and the other members stressed this well with Ol' Dirty Bastard that beyond the crazy personality was a genius man. RZA himself lamented this in The Tao of Wu that ODB began to lose his depth due to prison and drugs and his eventual sad passing in 2004.
  • I Have Many Names: And we mean MANY names, especially Ol' Dirty Bastard. A skit taken from an interview is hidden at the end of "Can It Be All So Simple" explains the meaning of some of the nicknames.
  • Insistent Terminology: Besides their adoption of the Supreme Alphabet and Supreme Mathematics and their deluge of references... well, there's their use of "Shaolin" as a synonym for "Staten Island".
  • Kamehame Hadoken: Cappadonna does one at the beginning of his verse in "Triumph".
  • Large Ham: ODB and Ghostface Killah. Expect him to really Chew the Scenery on the more dramatic songs in the group's catalogue. Most songs featuring him and Ol' Dirty Bastard usually become Ham-to-Ham Combat.
  • Living Lie Detector: Inspectah Deck, apparently:
    "Inspectah Deck, he's like that dude that'll sit back and watch you play yourself and all that right? And see you sit there and know you lyin; and he'll take you to court after that, cuz he the Inspectah."
  • The Leader: RZA.
  • Meaningful Name: Their stage names each represent a trait they have, and this applies to a lot of their references.
    • The title for Once Upon a Time in Shaolin... literally can be summed up as "Once Upon a Time in Staten Island", since the group has called their hometown of Staten Island "Shaolin".
  • Make an Example of Them: Ghostface to several members of the De Lucas family in 12 Reasons to Die.
  • Money Song: "C.R.E.A.M."
  • Mr. Fanservice: Method Man. With the combination of his rugged good looks and charismatic personality, it made the group appeal to the female audience as well as the male audience.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Masta Killa, Ghostface Killah, 4-Bar Killer, Ill Irving the Murderer, The Razor, 60 Second Assassin, etc. Most were names taken from the villains in old kung fu movies, so this was bound to happen.
  • Odd Friendship: Bunny-Ears Lawyer ODB and pop princess Mariah Carey. They became close after he appeared on the remix of her song "Fantasy." Carey attended his funeral and included him in a montage of her deceased loved ones in one of her music videos.
  • The Old Gods: "Older Gods" is a track on Wu-Tang Forever:
    Ghostface Killer: Yo, the Older God put me on and had to rock this / Maintain Three-Sixty Lord live prosperous
  • One of Us: All the members were big fans of Marvel Comics and named their group after the kung fu movie, Shaolin and Wu Tang.
  • The Perfectionist: The RZA, by most indications. He admits this in his own autobiographies, saying that while he credits it for the Clan's success, it also very nearly destroyed his friendships.
  • Plato Is a Moron: Inspectah Deck claims that even Socrates isn't capable of contemplating his style on the song "Triumph".
    "Socrates' philosophies and hypotheses can't define how I be droppin' these mockeries."
  • Rags to Riches: Went from having to literally steal canned food during the recording of 36 Chambers to being worth around $16 million a piece.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The RZA trades these with a girl he's breaking up with on the song "Domestic Violence" off his debut album.
  • Reference Overdosed: To put it mildly.
    "Put a hanger on a fuckin' stove and let that shit sit there for like, a half hour..."
  • Sampling: From Shaw Brothers King Fu movies, old cartoons, other rap songs, other R&B name it, they've probably sampled it at some point.
  • Scary Black Man: For certain values of scary. The lyrical content certainly seems to deliberately invoke this.
  • Screaming Warrior: A persona they adopt a lot, especially on 36 Chambers.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: In 12 Reasons to Die, the crime family that took out Starks sealed his remains into 12 vinyl records, but little did they know, Starks would rise again as The Ghostface Killah.
  • Shout-Out: The Clan were prone to making references to comics and movies in their lyrics and their nicknames.
    Inspectah Deck: "Swinging through your town like your neighborhood Spider-Man!"
  • Something Person: Method Man, most obviously, and frequent affiliate Redman.
  • Spelling Song: "Method Man" starts with "M-E-T-H-O-D," itself a reference to Hall and Oates' "Method of Modern Love."
  • Take That!:
    "My arts is crafty darts, why y'all stuck on 'Laffy Taffy'?/Wondering, how did y'all niggas get past me!?"
  • Team Dad: Popa Wu, in addition to acting as a road manager, was an actual father figure for several members growing up.
  • Title-Only Chorus: A couple of songs of theirs, but most notably, "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin' Ta Fuck Wit'"
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: RZA became this for many people (and the Wu) himself in recent years due to his Control Freak nature and Insufferable Genius tendencies, hence why many of the albums after Wu-Tang Forever are always filled with strife (in particular A Better Tomorrow). This was made worse with Once Upon a Time in Shaolin being kept a secret from everyone and prompting more of a With Friends Like These... mentality with everyone against RZA. This changed somewhat when it was revealed how dependant the Clan was on his leadership. They were known for being undisiciplined and often not even coming to their own video shoots. RZA's control freak tendencies were necessary.
  • Word of God: Cappadonna had long been deemed an unofficial member of the group for multiple years appearing more than any other affiliate on official Wu-Tang albums as well as solo members albums. During an interview in 2014, RZA confirmed he officially is a member and has been a member since 2007.

Alternative Title(s): Method Man