Wu Tang Clan: Full Profile
The Wu-Tang Clan has been around since 1992 and rose to prominence in the mid and late 90s. Considering their unique and cohesive sound, the group is still a force to be reckoned with. Many of their group members went on to have successful solo careers all on their own. But before they started selling millions of albums worldwide and going platinum and gold four times, the hardcore hip hop group came from humble beginnings.
In the late 1980’s the cousins Robert Diggs, Gary Grice, and Russell Jones got together and formed a group they called Force of the Imperial Master and the All Together Now crew. They were all known to use an alias while performing which were Grice as The Genius, Diggs as Prince Rakeem or The Scientist, and Jones as The Specialist. They gained a lot of traction in the boroughs of New York without being signed to any many major record labels. Even Biz Markie praised the group for their talents and cited them as an influence on his music.
In 1991, The Genius and Prince Rakeem were signed to separate record labels but were still making music together. Through Cold Chillin Records, the Genius released “Words from the Genius.” And through Tommy Boy Records, Prince Rakeem released “Oh I Love You Rakeem.” Unfortunately for both artists, they were both dropped from the labels shortly have their albums dropped. Being dropped from a label was a huge hit to both of their collective egos.
But if they wanted to make it in the music industry, they couldn’t allow setbacks to define their careers. Determined, both artists decided to pursue their musical endeavors. Prince Rakeem decided that his stage name wasn’t appropriate for him anymore and decided to simply be referred to as RZA professionally. The Genius followed suit and decided that a more sufficient stage name for him would be GZA.
When RZA met Dennis Coles, the two became inseparable and discussed their love of rap music. Coles had previously served a prison sentence when he was 15 and had the personality at the time that attracted RZA. Eventually, RZA convinced Coles to adopt a stage name into his persona and he decided on Ghostface Killah the two decided that they wanted to create a hip-hop group that was composed of members who blend Eastern philosophy and Kong Fu movies. They ended up forming the Wu-Tang Clan in 1992 with RZA as the frontman. RZA and Wu-Tang group member Ole Dirty Bastard named the group after the film, Shaolin and Wu-Tang.
In 1993, the group released the song “Protect Ya Neck” which got the group a hefty underground following due to its popularity. Even though the track was well received the group was having some trouble signing to a major record label. So each member was recording music on their own with their tracks topping the charts. The group released “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” in November of 1993. It is still considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. Considering each member collectively was signed to a major record label but couldn’t get a deal together, it was as if they changed the structure of hip hop completely at the time. The influence of the album allowed members Ol’ Dirty Bastard,, GZA, RZA, Raekwon, U-God, Method Man, and Ghost face Killah all to negotiate solo contracts.
- 1993: Enter the Wu-Tang(36 Chambers)
- 1997: Wu-Tang Forever
- 2000: The W
- 2001: Iron Flag
- 2007: 8 Diagrams
- 2014: A Better Tomorrow
- 2015: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin