With the 25th anniversary of Wu-Tang Clan's masterpiece Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers approaching, we revisit some of the best samples on one of hip-hop's most important records.
At a time when West Coast hip-hop was dominated by the likes of Dre, Snoop Dogg and 2Pac, an east-stater with the stage name RZA was quietly cooking up an album that would change the game forever. The group's debut release, featuring nine members who each had their own unique stage persona, name and rapping style, ushered in a new style of hip-hop production and storytelling that has since influenced three generations of music makers.
Throughout his career behind the boards, RZA sampled sparse piano lines, chanting vocals and clips from kung-fu films to create some of the grittyest beats of the 1990's. But he also used the music to convey deeper messages about poverty's social entrapments and its natural liaison into crime and self-destruction on the streets.
RZA also embraced his role as an intellectual, putting forth ideas on subjects that few in hip-hop were willing to broach at the time, such as the idea that black youths are being conditioned from birth to believe that prison life is glamorous. He also weighed in on the issue of sex, drugs and gang violence on his album Black And Tan Fantasy.
In recent years, the emcee has delved into acting as well, appearing in Derailed and Coffee and Cigarettes and playing Blind Master in the science fiction action film Repo Men. More recently, the Staten Island icon starred in and directed The Man with Iron Fists, which was based on a screenplay he wrote himself.