Ol‘ Dirty Bastard: aka Russel Jones. Osiris and Joe Bananas
ancient myth about a group of rebel warriors whose strength was based on an invincible martial arts fighting technique. the ‘sword style’. According to the myth. the Wu-Tang Clan rebelled against an ancient Shao Lin monastery where monks were taught martial arts for mental and physical discipline. The Shao Lin monks had refused to teach their students the secret ‘sword style‘ because it would make them too powerful. Believing it wrong to withold this knowledge. the Wu- Tang Clan rebelled and began spreading it throughout the world.
Fast forward a few thousand years and RZA and company have applied the Wu—Tang myth in an altogether different context. Staten Island and America. have been their Shao Lin.
Now, instead of being ordinary street hustlers, the Wu-Tang Clan are super anti-heroes, claiming to fight oppression and spreading
knowledge to their people.
They have appointed themselves the new warriors. who see themselves as spreading powerful knowledge through hip hop music. Beneath their apparently ordinary hip hop lyrics is a complex web of symbolism relating to conspiracy theories. severe paranoia. martial arts. the bible. apocalyptic visions and the Five Percent Nation — a Neo-lslamic faction based on the numerological theory of ‘Living Mathematics’.
The title of their debut album. Euler The Wu-Tang Clan (36 Chambers) refers to the 35 ‘chambers’ or special disciplines of kung fu. lt
Method Man: aka Clifford Smith, Tical and Johnny Blaze
GZA: aka Gary Price. Genius and Justice
also alludes to Slum/in And Wu Tang and Master Killers. two of their favourite kung fu films. in which the protagonist attempts to create his own special 36th martial art chamber. On another level. the album title relates to the body's 108 pressure points as identified in martial arts. 36 of which can sustain potentially fatal injuries. Or is it because the heart has four chambers and there are nine Wu-Tang members: 4 x 9:36 chambers?
Confused? You will be. The Wu-Tang use negative experiences to create an inner strength. mythologising their own pasts in an attempt to escape them. Which is why they talk incessantly and confusingly about their invincible verbal ‘sword style‘. living in Shao Lin and other nonsense. They formed the group in response to the horror and brutality of their street lives. So now. instead of being ordinary street hustlers. they are super anti- heroes. claiming to fight oppression and spreading knowledge to their people.
Within the American hip hop community. the Wu-Tang Clan are revered. On another. more down to earth level. these are just nine young men making hip hop. having fun. earning a lot of money and maybe.just maybe. talking a bit of nonsense on the way. Whatever the case. their music is strong and positive and you can't argue with that.
The Wu-Tang Clan's second album Forever is out now on Loud Records. They play Barrowland, Glasgow, Thurs 5 Jun.
lnspektah Deck: aka Jason Hunter, Rebel INS and Rally Fingers
Master Killah: aka Noodles and Jamal
U-God: aka Lamont Hawkins, Lucky Hands and Golden Hands
Ghostface Killah: aka Denis Coles, Tony Starks and Ironman
Raekwon: aka Raekwon The Chef, Lou Diamonds and Shallah Raekwon
30 May-12 Jun 1997 THELIST 19