Wednesday, January 21, 2009
MY NEXT AMBITIOUS UNDERTAKING...FOUR YEARS IN THE WU: 1993-1996
Little did anyone know when "Protect Ya Neck" dropped on May 3rd, 1993 from an unknown crew of nine dudes from Staten Island that the world of hip hop would never be the same. When the Wu-Tang Clan broke, it was like a tidal wave. I remember the first time I saw the video to "M.E.T.H.O.D. Man" on BET thinking, "These dudes are raw." I was hooked. I went to the local CD and tapes store (who I now work for) and asked the guy wandering the floor for this cassette almost cringing when I said it thinking that I was getting it wrong. "I'm looking for Wu Tang or Tong or Wu Shang. I don't know. Something like Wu Klan. Not sure." We looked for almost fifteen minutes only to find that it wasn't yet out. They didn't even have distribution yet. For about a month or so, that piano loop was echoing in my brain. I couldn't shake it. Duh-duh-duh-dang! Duh-duh-duh-dang! I dropped back by probably three other times and kept walking to the section of W's and lo and behold, there it was. Copped it on cassette. Blew my mind. Those beats. Those piano loops. Ol' Dirty Bastard. RZA. Method Man. The first time through, it truly felt like I was the only cat in Lubbock who was hearing it. I felt like I was the only cat in the nation who had this recording. I was open and things would never be the same for me. Now, over fifteen years later, here I sit. Gotta job. A college education. Things have changed. There's very few opportunities in a happy marriage to blast Wu Tang around the house. It's just the way it is. Well, I thought, with my lovely wife going out this weekend on some training, it'd be a perfect time for me to revisit those records. When I say "those records," I'm referring to the years of 1993-1996. Undoubtedly the nastiest, funkiest, hardest years of the Wu Tang Clan. After the debut album dropped, like tentacles of the same monstrous beast, all these solo albums started poppin' up. Like a collector, I hunted them all down. They almost came too fast. GZA had one, then Dirty, then Raekwon. For a kid with no job and only lunch money, you could hardly keep up. Those early records are absolute insanity. So I'm compiling the best from that era for you, The Root Down readers/listeners so you can experience it with me one more time. Before the acting gigs, the affiliates, the shampoo, before Wu Wear started poppin' up at TJ Maxx, before Ghostface jumped ship and never looked back, before the film scores and Tarantino...before all of that, there was 1993-1996 Wu Tang. Prepare yourself.