Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of one of the most important cultural documents of a generation: the Wu-Tang Clan's Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The album was crafted in a dojo in Staten Island, New York — better known as Shaolin — by a nine-man collective (sorry, Cappadonna) with a staggering amount of talent, and it was released into the world on November 9, 1993. Mystical, lyrical, fantastical, aerobic, hysterical: They were an evolutionary flock of young guns with old souls. To celebrate the group's debut — which launched a swarm of solo careers, a hive of affiliated artists, a clothing line, a loose philosophy of life, and a few terrible movies — we asked nine Grantland staffers to represent for their favorite member of the Wu, just as they did back in '93.
Twenty years ago this Saturday, an atomic bomb was dropped. The Wu-Tang Clan released Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), launching one of the greatest empires in the history of music and forever pushing the axis of hip-hop toward a stranger, darker, and indubitably better place. To commemorate the occasion, we called up RZA to briefly talk about the past, the future, and just what the hell is going on with the new Wu album.
Last year you told the New York Times there's "one last job Wu-Tang Clan must do. The 20th anniversary is next year. And we need to, one time, completely, efficiently, properly represent our brand." So how's it going?
A lot of us are picking up on it, but there are a few of us who are late to the table. I'm still pushing forward full-strength, till my energy run out. The dream was to have it come out this week. It should have came out on our anniversary date. But what I feel spiritually is that that day is gonna trigger a change. I don't know if it's gonna trigger a change in everybody but it's definitely gonna trigger a change in me. I've been really refocusing the last few days, refocusing my energy on the legacy of what we created, and what's gonna come in the future, [in order] to uphold what we said, to uphold what it meant to us and to uphold what it meant to the fans. Is that gonna be in the format of making albums and songs? Is that gonna be in the format of writing books or performing on TV or film? And whatever the format that it leads to, I'm gonna live out the legacy of Wu-Tang forever.
We're now waist-deep in awards season, and the Grantland staff would like to take this opportunity to remind all the Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Collar nominees out there that should they have to step up to that podium and take that mic on national television, they owe it to themselves to study up beforehand and see how the pros handle it. Here are our favorite awards show acceptance (and unacceptance) speeches from all corners of the entertainment world.
Full disclosure: I hate live music. Too loud, too crowded, too hard to have a conversation, and just generally too much yelling for my taste. However, my love of all things Wu-Tang so surpasses my distaste for live music that when I heard that the Clan was bringing their Witty Unpredictable Talent And Natural Game to a venue mere yards from Grantland HQ, I had to attend. OK, fine, I didn’t have to. I planned on attending, then didn’t feel like it, then only came around when I considered how livid 17-Year-Old Me would be if he knew that he would grow up to be Now Me.