The Wu-Tang Clan forever changed the game

Heavily inspired by mob movies and king-fu cinema, Wu-tang Clan began in Staten Island, the brainchild of the brilliantly sharp RZA, who brought his brothers and their talents together to form a hip-hop conglomerate whose rhymes are as much based on the science of everything in life as they are about the rugged streets from where they came. In 1993, Wu-Tang Clan forever changed the game with the release of its debut, Enter the 36 Chambers.

Known for coupling thuggish behavior with philosophical verses, Wu-Tang leaned heavily on the notions from the Nation of Gods and Earths, the elements of Kung-Fu and the ways of the Tao. Each rapper was more than capable to spit a head splitting verse, and then, quite frankly, splitting someone's head, literally.

On "Protect Ya Neck," the track from 36 Chambers that remarkably features each member, RZA speaks of the rise in black unemployment in the same breath he uses to describe how mighty his Clan is. Touting the principles of loyalty, respect, and motivation, the Wu pushed the boundaries of rap at the time. Born of the same militant genes as Public Enemy, the Wu-tang Clan was rowdy, rambunctious and completely effective in its approach.

Comprising RZA, the GZA, Ol Dirty Bastard, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killa, Inspectah Deck, Method Man and Masta Killa, the Wu-tang Clan was deadly together and just as lethal on their own. Each Clan member went on to pursue solo efforts, most notably Method Man, who became as much known for his his neck-whipping lyrics with the Wu.

Ol Dirty Bastard also experienced considerable success as a solo act before his lifestyle caught up to him and he ended up dying long before anyone expected. RZA, of course, went on to become one of the greatest producers and composers of all time. He scored both volumes of Kill Bill, produced material for each Wu member's solo joint, and essentially attained Jedi status.

Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothing to fuck with.

February has traditionally been the month when the contributions from, traditions of and historical facts about African-Americans are celebrated. In honor of Black History Month, Backbeat will be celebrating iconic figures in the world of black music.

Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music

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