WU TANG CLAN- TOP 40 SONGS EVER

On December 2nd, the greatest group of rappers ever assembled will release their first full length album in seven years. While expectations are understandably being kept low-key for the most part, I thought it might be fun to take a look back on everything they have accomplished together as we await their next delivery. I’ll be counting down two songs per day, leading up to #1 on Monday, December 2nd.

WU TUNG KILLAH BEEZ, THEY ON DA SWARM!!!!!!!!!!

All songs produced by the RZA unless otherwise noted.

#40: ALL I NEED (METHOD MAN/ TICAL) 1994

The plan was apparently always for Clifford Smith, aka Method Man, to release the first solo album out of the Wu saga. This track picked up commercial appeal after the addition of Mary J. Blige made the remix a pop hit, but this original version showcases the raw, unique style of Johnny Blaze, with those honest, breathless, I-don’t-give-a-fuck-if I-need -oxygen gasps between metronomes that became the Method Man trademark, here adding an element of (gasp) romance, to boot.

 “Back when I was nothin’/ You made a brother feel like he was somethin’/ That’s why I’m with you to this day boo no frontin’” –Method Man

Verses: Method Man

#39: DA MYSTERY OF CHESSBOXIN (ENTER THE 36 CHAMBERS) 1993

A melodic crew track from the early days with a beat so raw that it borders on a freestyle exhibition, but as the RZA is wont to do, a subtle organ line repeats over, and over, and over…

“….introducing the Ghost…Face…Killah!!! (No one could get illah)” -ODB

First Verse: U-God

Second Verse: Inspectah Deck

Third Verse: Raekwon

Fourth Verse: Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Fifth Verse: Ghostface Killah

Sixth Verse: Masta Killa

#38: CRIMINOLOGY (RAEKWON/ ONLY BUILT FOR CUBAN LINX) 1995

A triumphant horn combined with a dark RZA beat, complete with eerie bell chiming sounds? Count me in! Like so many tracks on this quasi-concept album built around tales of organized crime, Raekwon’s first as a solo artist, this track creates a steady air of paranoia that is complemented by the shift between the minor key of the chimes and the almost jazzy, abrasive transition to the horn sample, creating a severely contrasting and unsettling mood.

“Extravagant/ RZA bake the track and it’s militant/ Then I react like a convict and start killin’ shit” – Ghostface Killah

First Verse: Ghostface Killah

Second Verse: Raekwon

#37: WINTER WARZ (GHOSTACE KILLAH/ IRONMAN) 1996

An impressive showcase of some of the more behind-the-scenes members of the group, especially the epic verse from Cappadonna, this track is also structured flawlessly between its spoken word chorus and relentless rhyme schemes. The haunted house piano loop from the RZA is a trademark of early Wu.

“Put your bi-focal on/ Watch me a-cometh/ Into your chamber like Freddy enter dream/ Discombumberate your technique and your scheme” -Cappadonna

First Verse: U-God

Second Verse: Ghostface Killah

Third Verse: Masta Killa

Fourth Verse: Cappadonna

Chorus: Raekwon

#36: LABELS (GZA/ LIQUID SWORDS) 1995

If there was any doubt that this album was dark as shit, halfway through, this track leaves no doubt. My goodness, the RZA buzz, the echoes, the GZA completely abandoning his supposed “laid back” style and just murdering everyone…okay that’s enough. I’m still terrified 20 years later. Oh, and it’s just the set-up track for the greatest rap song of all time. No big deal.

“Rza Rza Rza Razor Sharp”- GZA

I agree.

Verses: GZA

#35: DUEL OF THE IRON MIC (GZA/ LIQUID SWORDS) 1995

The ominous and dreary tone of this landmark album was evident early on thanks to this track. A hypnotic RZA piano loop carries the tone into focused lyrical delivery from three Wu members. Inspectah Deck even references a woman stuffing drugs into her pussy, so there’s that.

“Oh mad one, we see your trap! You can never escape your fate. Submit with honor to a duel with my son.”

First Verse: GZA

Second Verse: Masta Killah

Third Verse: Inspectah Deck

Chorus: Ol’ Dirty Bastard

#34: BROOKLYN ZOO (OL’ DIRTY BASTARD/ RETURN TO THE 36 CHAMBERS) 1996

The late ODB was really most effective when adding comedic effect and startling contrast thanks to his borderline absurd style of delivery, so it’s actually amazing that this solo album was as effective as it was. On its most famous track, he’s fully manic, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. What other rapper could make an instant classic by rhyming the word “to” with “zoo”???

“Shame on you/ When you step through to/ The Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Brooklyn Zoo!” -ODB

Verses: Ol’ Dirty Bastard

#33: BE EASY (GHOSTFACE KILLAH/ FISHSCALE) 2006 (Produced by Pete Rock)

When Ghostface made an entire full length, 24 track album without a single track produced by RZA, Wu-Tang fans raised their collective eyebrows. This is an important song in the group’s catalogue as it showcased an evolution of sorts by its most successful individual member, and it stands alone as a hard-beat party track that butts heads with the style that the Wu built itself upon. While it may have been the moment it became evident that the Wu of old would never be again, it showed the type of trajectory and dimension that made Fishscale a shocking success.

“I’m like the boogeyman nigga/ I’ll get ya/ Whether now or later/ Afterlife or switcher” -Ghostface Killah

Verses: Ghostface Killah

#32: KILLAH HILLS 10304 (GZA/ LIQUID SWORDS) 1995

A slightly overstated and unbelievable drug transaction intro skit notwithstanding, this dark, redundant beat sets the tone for the GZA to showcase his laid-back style of delivery to a tee over a single, terrifying verse, with absolutely no assistance.

“First rule/ Anyone who schemes on the gold in Syria/ I want they small intestines ripped from the interior”- GZA

Verses: GZA

#31 INCARCERATED SCARFACES (RAEKWON/ ONLY BUILT FOR CUBAN LINX) 1995

Raekwon is all alone here on one of two true solo tracks on his landmark release, and a razor sharp one at that, as some of the hardest RZA beats in the early Wu catalogue combine with a showcase of frantic rhyme schemes from the Chef, none of which are more impressive than the fantastic chorus itself.

“Now yo yo what up yo/ Time is runnin’ out/ It’s for real though/ Let’s connect politic ditto/ We could trade places and get lifted into staircases/ Word up peace, Incarcerated Scarfaces”- Raekwon

Verses: Raekwon

#30 WU GAMBINOS (RAEKWON/ ONLY BUILT FOR CUBAN LINX) 1995

If Only Built For Cuban Linx really took the mafiaso rap genre to a new level, then this was the track that did it, with the bulk of the entire team delivering impeccable rhymes behind a haunting piano line and a relentless snare drum beat. What really elevates this track though is the extremely underrated, often forgotten, epic verse from the RZA, who shows even less consideration than usual for rhyming over an actual beat and is much the better for it. I’d have hated to have been Masta Killa on this one, having to follow that.

“The grand exquisite imperial wizard oh is it?/ The Rzarector come to pay your ass a visit”- RZA

First Verse: Method Man

Second Verse: Raekwon

Third Verse: RZA

Fourth Verse: Masta Killa

Fifth Verse: Ghostface Killah

#29 WINDMILL (8 DIAGRAMS) 2007

Surprise! While this album didn’t end up holding a candle to the first two full on Wu albums, this particular track is an outlier, and a welcome throwback to the original RZA production style, as fluttering, buzzing synth understates a full on lyrical assault from two thirds of the group.

“A Cuban Link Chef cooks spaghetti that’s untied/ Ragu nigga whose tomatoes are sundried”- GZA

First Verse: Raekwon

Second Verse: GZA

Third Verse: Masta Killa

Fourth Verse: Inspectah Deck

Fifth Verse: Method Man

Sixth Verse: Cappadonna

#28 THE NEW WU (RAEKWON/ ONLY BUILT FOR CUBAN LINX PART II) 2009

One of just two RZA produced tracks on Raekwon’s long awaited follow-up to his game-changing solo debut, steady percussion line glides above an early 70s blues sample, along with a welcome re-appearance from Method Man. The straightforward repetition of the foreboding vocal loop was, at this point, music to the ears of fans starved for some true RZA production as the first decade of the new millennium neared an end.

“Tell a friend it’s that symbol again/ That W/ Comin through, bust a shot on your block/ Give me a soo!” –Method Man

Intro and Chorus: Method Man

First Verse: Raekwon

Second Verse: Ghostface Killah

Third Verse: Method Man

#27 SHIMMY SHIMMY YA (OL’ DIRTY BASTARD/ RETURN TO THE 36 CHAMBERS) 1996

The Ol’ Dirty Bastard was always best when at his most obvious and most ridiculous. Here, he does a shimmy while reminding us that he likes at raw, all above an addictive piano loop that couldn’t be any less complex if it were “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, yet somehow it all works to perfection, and lives on beyond the ODB as arguably his greatest single contribution….and it’s all over in under three minutes.

“Ya baby I like it raw/ Ooh baby I like it raw”- ODB

Verses: ODB

#26 BRING THE PAIN (METHOD MAN/ TICAL) 1994

This track is a perfect example of the typical early RZA production style, with heavily repeated, ghostly vocal loops complemented by a single, terrifying piano note, the presence of which becomes unpredictable and quite effective as a result of that fact as the song builds. Method Man, for his part, is as aggressive as ever, and sells the title of his most famous solo effort on his first attempt away from the rest of the Clan, with some help from a Jamaican vocalist called Booster.

“I came to bring the pain/ Hardcore from the brain/ Let’s go inside my astral plane”- Method Man

Verses: Method Mad

#25 APOLLO KIDS (GHOSTFACE KILLAH/ SUPREME CLIENTELE) 2000 (Produced by Hassan)

Tony Starks always seemed very individualistic, and when Supreme Clientele dropped sans RZA beats for the most part, hard core Wu Tang Clan fans had reason to take exception with the triumphant, enter-the-new-century production elements on tracks like these. But Ghost proved us wrong most of the time, and especially on this initially shocking track, with an appearance from the Chef that reminds us that even if those two aren’t necessarily our two favorite Wu rappers, they are undeniably the best one-two, complementary punch.

“We banned for life/ Apollo kids live to spit the real”- Ghostface Killah

First Verse: Ghostface Killah

Second Verse: Ghostface Killah

Third Verse: Raekwon

#24: CAN IT BE ALL SO SIMPLE (ENTER THE 36 CHAMBERS) 1993

Of all the Wu catalogue, this track demonstrates a brutally emotional element from a group of east side teens that were well ahead of their years, and their peers, but clearly not missing the big picture. In the years that followed, they would become so much larger than life that it was easy to forget that they were then, as now, humans with vulnerabilities just like all of us. Songs like this tied their debut album together, yet stand alone remarkably well, even after all this time. Sorry, but I still can’t get past the opening line. 1993 Exoticness!

“Started off on the Island/ AKA Shaolin/ Niggaz whylin/ Gun shots thrown down the phone dialin”- Raekwon

Intro: RZA and Raekwon

First Verse: Raekwon

Second Verse: Ghostface Killah

Chorus: Raekwon and Ghostface Killah

#23 HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS (RAEKWON/ ONLY BUILT FOR CUBAN LINX PART II) 2009

All true Wu fans had to love a crew track at this late juncture, and this one in particular is made all the more poignant as reference is made to the departed ODB five years after his death. Method Man’s appearance specifically deserves a standing fucking ovation. This is RZA production at its most chaotic and panic-inducing.

“Pass the joint, let’s push this music past the point/ Of no return, til it crash and burn/ Down the ashes then/ Placed inside Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s urn”- Method Man

First Verse: Inspectah Deck

Second Verse: Raekwon

Third Verse: Ghostface Killah

Fourth Verse: Method Man

Chorus: GZA

#22: DAYTONA 500 (GHOSTACE KILLAH/ IRONMAN) 1996

I could do without the cheesy R&B intro and chorus, but the guitar-sample driven beat takes the intensity to another level here, and it’s a technique that Ghostface would continue to expand on in his later catalogue, albeit often without RZA beats. Still, this was the first time in the early days that RZA had forgone his trademark subtlety for an all-out onslaught, to a noticeably positive effect.

“Breathe oxygen/ Both sides of my jaw carry oxes/ The track hit like bangers/ In hundred watt boxes”- Ghostface Killah

First Verse: Raekwon

Second Verse: Ghostface Killah

Third Verse: Cappadonna

#21 WU BANGA 101 (GHOSTFACE KILLAH/ SUPREME CLIENTELE) 2000

(Produced by Mathematics)

A real Wu-Tang track on a Ghostface album in this century? This certainly stands out in that member’s recent catalog, and is much the better for it. The stylistic lack of RZA production influence is quite obvious, and while the repetition and subtlety of the Abbott’s acumen and legacy is still heard here, he is not. The rhymes don’t quite hit correctly at the back of the beat, but overall this track was a win for Tony Starks.

“Pack capsules/ Green Bay ‘em lay ‘em down like wax do/ It’s all actual/ We build like crash crew”- Raekwon

First Verse: GZA

Second Verse: Ghostface Killah

Third Verse: Raekwon

Fourth Verse: Cappadonna

Fifth Verse: Masta Killa

Sixth Verse: Ghostface Killah

#20 DEADLY MELODY (WU-TANG FOREVER) 1997

Could this be the single most underrated song in the history of music? We’ve got an unspeakably efficient RZA piano loop understated by upbeat electronic percussion and an intermittent celebratory horn, all in perfect contrast in terms of emotional tone. Oh, and let’s not forget that we get FIVE different members rapping on this completely unappreciated and exhausting exercise. This is also arguably the best contribution ever from Golden Arms, while RZA and Method Man flow brilliantly off one another.

“Pile-driver Tut boulder face blow hulk/ Anger rap book causing chess blade smoke”- U-God

First Verse: Masta Killa

Second Verse: U-God

Third Verse: RZA

Fourth Verse: Method Man

Fifth Verse: RZA

Sixth Verse: Method Man

Seventh Verse: (Streetlife)

Eighth Verse: Ghostface Killah

Ninth Verse: (Streetlife)

#19: COLD WORLD (GZA/ LIQUID SWORDS) 1995

If the argument is to made that the best RZA beats are the darkest ones, this highlight from the immaculate Liquid Swords should be a prime example, as the clacking electronic drums, deeper-than-the-darkest-night bass, and ominous string orchestration takes the entire Wu saga to a higher level of emotional possibilities…and oh yes, there’s another underrated verse from the Rebel INS to pull it all together perfectly.

“Clicks control strips/ Full clips are sprayed/ Yellow tape barricades sidewalks where bodies lay”- Inspectah Deck

First Verse: GZA

Second Verse: Inspectah Deck

#18 ICE CREAM (RAEKWON/ ONLY BUILT FOR CUBAN LINX) 1995

Another eerie organ loop serves as the skeleton for this sexually intense highlight from Raekwon’s best solo album to date. A hilariously obscene verse from Cappadonna adds contrast to the normal Wu lyrical focus, as this is the first song in their early catalogue to focus on women.

“Double time some time/ Ice cream you got me fallin’ out/ Like a cripple/ I love you like I love my dick size”- Cappadonna

Intro, Chorus: Method Man

First Verse: Ghostface Killah

Second Verse: Raekwon

Third Verse: Cappadonna

#17 9 MILL BROS (GHOSTFACE KILLAH/ FISHSCALE) 2006

The post-mortem verse from the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard is certainly a shocking highlight here, hidden in between contributions from each one of the Wu-Tang Clan members besides RZA, who makes his presence known from a production standpoint and on a brief intro. It’s a bittersweet collaboration, but we’ll take having the whole Clan together again for a bonafide crew track that soars above its pounding piano loop.

“Solid tone smith with fifth shots/ Lick shots/ Leave your head like a Shaolin monk/ With 6 dots”- ODB

Intro: RZA

First Verse: Ghostface Killah

Second Verse: Raekwon

Third Verse: ODB

Fourth Verse: Cappadonna

Fifth Verse: Method Man

Sixth Verse: GZA

Seventh Verse: Inspectah Deck

Eighth Verse: Masta Killah

Ninth Verse: U-God

#16: CLAN IN DA FRONT (ENTER THE 36 CHAMBERS) 1993

Behind maybe the most badass beat that RZA has ever produced, this two-part track would have almost been better served as the opening track, as punching bass synth jabs combine with maniacal ravings from the RZA. A fluttering piano loop connects the more carefree second section together, and GZA demonstrates his laid back vocal delivery, throwing in some insanely poetic insight that uses defecation as a metaphor. This actually received a recent dose of relevance, as the song playing in the background of the epic, chaotic raid scene in True Detective. Amazing choice and execution…

“You become so pat/ As my style increases/ What’s that in your pants?/ Ahhh human feces!/ Throw your shitty drawers in the hamper/ Next time come strapped with a fuckin Pamper”- GZA

Intro: RZA

Verses: GZA

#15 SHAKEY DOG (GHOSTFACE KILLAH/ FISHSCALE) 2006

(Produced by Lewis Parker)

This will be the single highest rated non-RZA produced song on the list, as it established early on Fishscale that this would be the Ghost-show, and something completely different than what we’d ever heard from him. Tension builds steadily as Ghostface delivers relentless rhymes above dark, perfectly executed production that abandons the subtlety of his prior work for a full-on, abrasive onslaught of nightmarish drug tales. In doing so, Ghost demonstrates a frantic, unorthodox delivery style that cares little about actually rhyming verses or matching the back of the beat, an atypical diction that fits the tone of the lyrics like a glove.

“Push me in quickly when the bitch open up/ Remember you don’t know me/ Blast him if he reach for his gun/ Yo who goes there/ Tony, Tony the second homie/ No matter rain, sleet or snow/ You know you supposed to phone me/ Off came the latch/ Frank pushed me into the door/ The door flew open/ Dude had his mouth open/ Frozen, stood still with his heat bulgin’/ Told him freeze, lay the fuck down/ Enjoy the moment”- Ghostface Killah

Verses: Ghostface Killah

#14: BRING DA RUCKUS (ENTER THE 36 CHAMBERS) 1993

And so here it was, our very first impression of the Wu-Tang Clan, as this opening track on their world-altering debut was an immediate grabber. From the stripped down, raw beat to the incredibly aggressive, no-holds-barred chorus from the RZA, it was clear that these guys were onto something special, and moderately terrifying.

“En Garde. I’ll let you try my Wu-Tang Style.”

First Verse: Ghostface Killah

Second Verse: Raekwon

Third Verse: Inspectah Deck

Fourth Verse: GZA

Chorus: RZA

#13: HEAVEN AND HELL (RAEKWON/ ONLY BUILT FOR CUBAN LINX) 1995

Another powerful emotional track from the early days, this song nearly borders on R&B and is often forgotten, but not on this list. The devastating loop of Syl Johnson’s “Could I Be Falling In Love” is haunting and perhaps the prettiest single sample that RZA has ever used in a rap song, while Blue Raspberry’s vocals add extra heft. The nonchalance of both rappers’ delivery as they alternate lines within verses just demonstrates such a mood of heartbreaking hopelessness. I mean, how else can you get away with a two minute outro that consists of no rhymes and just shout-outs? It’s the musicality, and it trumps a chorus that doesn’t really make any lyrical sense.

“What do you believe in?/ Heaven or hell?/ You don’t believe in heaven/ Cause we’re living in hell”- Raekwon

First Verse: Raekwon and Ghostface Killah

#12: METHOD MAN (ENTER THE 36 CHAMBERS) 1993

The fact that a single member of the clan was granted an entire track for himself on their debut album defies explanation in retrospect, but it again confirms that in the early days, Method Man was considered to be the most marketable member. Complemented by a ridiculously macho, graphic and ultimately hilarious torture skit intro, this is as upbeat and playful as early Wu-Tang gets from a musical standpoint with its carnival piano loop. On a showcase introduction to the inimitable lyrical styling of Method Man, complete with actual singing and punctuated by the frenetic gasps of air between stanzas, we get more than we can handle in terms of lyrics, combining creative, entertaining metaphors with brilliant rhyme schemes. Oh, and he’s clearly the “super-sperm.”

“Hey hey hey like Fat Albert/ It’s the Method Man/ Ain’t no if ands about it”- Method Man

Intro: GZA

Verses: Method Man

Outro: RZA and Ghostface Killah

#11 REUNITED (FOREVER) 1997

 The first proper track from the highly anticipated second album from the whole clan, following tons of solo albums that were really Wu-Tang albums, this aptly titled effort did not disappoint long-time, salivating fans. Three simple loops- deep bass, gorgeous, confident violin, and a subtle guitar strum- carry over a hard beat and spot on rhymes. When the horns come in through the outro, it becomes almost celebratory- the Wu is back!

“Yo yo the riddler/ Funny bone tickler freak Caligula/ Bigger dick sex enigma pistol/ Fertilize your stigma”- RZA

First Verse: GZA

Second Verse: Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Third Verse: RZA

Fourth Verse: Method Man

#10: ASSASSINATION DAY (GHOSTFACE KILLAH/ IRONMAN) 1996

Ah, now here’s a track that makes you really appreciate those old RZA beats. On a very underrated effort that gains traction from the contributions of four Clan members, the haunting subtleties of the repetitive organ throb gets a subtle flailing squeal addition intermittently. Once again, Inspectah Deck sets the stage….INS into the RZA behind this beat is hard to beat, just like that Geico beaver animal.

“Unforgivable snakes/ Face the double-edged swords starts to swivel/ Decapitates the head/ Makes the projects more livable/ Interchangeable/ Caution flameable/ My chamber is ninety-nine plus one unnameable/ Angles/ And strangles/ Microphone cords start to dangle/ Silent as the gases/ That pass throughout your anal”- RZA

First Verse: Inspectah Deck

Second Verse: RZA

Third Verse: Raekwon

Fourth Verse: Masta Killa

#9: PROTECT YA NECK (ENTER THE 36 CHAMBERS) 1993

THE original Wu track showcases the trademark subtleties of the RZA production style. There isn’t a ton going on here; we’ve got a gently intertwined piano loop and some understated electronic squealing. Instead, this is a showcase track for dramatic rhyme schemes, and every member delivers.

“For crying out loud my style is wild so book me/ Not long is how long that this rhyme took me”- Ghostface Killah

First Verse: Inspectah Deck

Second Verse: Raekwon

Third Verse: Method Man

Bridge: U-God

Interlude: Method Man, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and RZA

Fourth Verse: Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Fifth Verse: Ghostface Killah

Sixth Verse: RZA

Seventh Verse: GZA

Outro: RZA, Method Man

#8: SHADOWBOXIN’ (GZA/ LIQUID SWORDS) 1995

Nonchalance. That was the key to the early production style of our generation’s greatest producer, and there was perhaps never a better delivery style for that choice than the Method Man. His wraspy, no frills vocal onslaught arguably met its perfect match on this brilliantly repetitive loop. OH MAN.

“I don’t give a cottin’ pickin’ FUCK/ About a brother tryin to size nigga up/ I hold my own” –Method Man

I buy it…

First Verse: Method Man

Second Verse: GZA

Third Verse: Method Man

#7: 7TH CHAMBER (ENTER THE 36 CHAMBERS) 1993

Fans of the 1990s West Coast style hated this song when it dropped, no doubt, and that’s exactly what makes it so great. A simple, repetitive loop from the RZA gets completely brutalized by nearly the entire Wu-Tang Clan at this early juncture; there isn’t a single weak link as every verse absolutely kills. The goal was to murder the beat, and the Clan succeeded without debate…imagine that, trying to destroy your own beat with your own rapping skills. Fascinating.

“Ya getting stripped from ya garments boy/ Run ya jewels/ While the meth got me open like fallopian tubes/ I bring death to a snake when he least expect/ Ain’t a damn thing changed boy/ Protect Ya Neck!” -RZA

First Verse: Raekwon

Second Verse: Method Man

Third Verse: Inspectah Deck

Fourth Verse: Ghostface Killah

Fifth Verse: RZA

Sixth Verse: Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Seventh Verse: GZA

#6 TRIUMPH (WU-TANG FOREVER) 1997

Read the background behind the reaction of the rest of the Clan after Inspectah Deck, once again, dropped an impossible-to-top setup verse to open this now classic whole-crew-track. Like a game-changing shot in a basketball game, the rest of the team responded…and where else can you find every one of the official nine members of the Wu-Tang Clan speaking at least one verse in a song? You can’t. Only here.

“I bomb atomically/ Socrates’ philosophies and hypothesies/ Can’t define how I be droppin’ these/ Mockeries/ Lyrically perform armed robbery/ Flee with the lottery/ Possibly they spotted me”- Inspectah Deck

First Verse: Inspectah Deck

Second Verse: Method Man

Third Verse: Cappadonna

Interlude: ODB

Fourth Verse: U-God

Fifth Verse: RZA

Sixth Verse: Masta Killa

Seventh Verse: GZA

Eighth Verse: Ghostface Killah

Ninth Verse: Raekwon

#5: LIQUID SWORDS (GZA/ LIQUID SWORDS) 1995

 

“When I was little… my father was famous.

He was the greatest samurai in the empire;

And he was the shogun’s decapitator.

He cut off the heads of a hundred and thirty-one lords.

It was a bad time for the empire.

The shogun just stayed inside his castle — and he never came out.

People said his brain was infected by devils.

My father would come home — he would forget about the killings.

He wasn’t scared of the shogun, but the shogun was scared of him.

Maybe that was the problem.

Then, one night… the shogun sent his ninja spies to our house.

They were supposed to kill my father… but they didn’t.

That was the night everything changed.”

And the award for the most horrifying opening track monologue in the history of rap goes to…!!! In all seriousness, this was so scary and awesome that I used to scream the entire opening verbatim along with the album at parties in high school, bringing activity to a halt and basically terrifying all in attendance beyond imagination. When the actual song begins, it’s the simplest, most nonchalant, spliced up loop you could contemplate, but it’s also so confrontational and awe-inspiring. It’s been known to bring people out of a hungover bachelor party slumber simply by its ability to induce hypnosis, pure fear and a feeling of invincibility, but that is a tale for another day.

“I’m on a mission/ That niggaz say is impossible/ But when I swing my swords/ They all choppable/ I be the body dropper/ The heartbeat stopper/ Child educator/ Plus head amputator”- GZA

Intro/Chorus: RZA

Verses: GZA

#4 FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE (WU-TANG FOREVER) 1997

A stunning track that is way too often forgotten, and may well be RZAs very best accomplishment, from the spliced soul sample, the deliberate piano loop that changes octaves without fear, the atmospheric violin, the demonic percussion that combine to form such overall darkness…it’s a great setup track early on the double album, and it is never topped. And, unlike early Wu stunners, this leans on production over rhymes, a poignant observation in regard to how the group would divide in the years that followed. Yet, who’s there to bat leadoff again? The sabermetric crowd must LOVE Inspectah Deck.

“Limited edition composition spark friction/ Non-fiction/ The calm bomb keep your arm distant”- Inspectah Deck

First Verse: Inspectah Deck

Second Verse: GZA

Third Verse: Cappadonna

#3 GLACIERS OF ICE (RAEKWON/ ONLY BUILT FOR CUBAN LINX) 1995

That RZA buzz. I’ve mentioned it before, but here, the implementation of said buzz creates a level of intensity and paranoia that cannot be denied. Adding over-the-top soul that stretches octaves and might otherwise sound discordant fit perfectly on this flawless track, an example of production possibilities at the highest possible level. Raekwon delivers perhaps his most absorbed, incredible performance of his life behind lyrical brilliance.

“The treacherous glaciers of ice/ Orginial man/ Possess the power to hold OGs guns and grams” –Raekwon and Ghostface Killah

First Verse: Raekwon

Second Verse: GZA

#2: C.R.E.A.M. (ENTER THE 36 CHAMBERS) 1993

Again, we saw such a demonstration of wisdom and perspective from these youths. But this was the track that put the rest of the East Coast rap scene on severe red alert ass-kick advisory. Again, it’s a piano loop that lays the groundwork for the beat, but this one is a bit more ethereal, abstract and difficult to grasp than what was typically used by RZA at the time, as it creates an almost dreamlike texture. The message is a simple truth of life that plays like an alibi which ultimately became a 90s rap slogan, and is probably the group’s trademark track.

“Neglected for now/ But yo it gots to be accepted/ That what?/ That life is hectic”- Inspectah Deck

Intro: Method Man and Raekwon

First Verse: Raekwon

Second Verse: Inspectah Deck

Outro: RZA and Ghostface Killah

Chorus: Method Man

#1: 4TH CHAMBER (GZA/ LIQUID SWORDS) 1995

“Choose the sword, and you will join me. Choose the ball, and you join your mother, in death. You don’t understand my words, but you must choose. So, come boy. Choose life or death…”

What kind of lunatic would choose the ball? Under these circumstances?!!! I think the decision is fairly clear… I digress.

But, the real decision came at the point of musical production, and it’s an intro for, what is, to these ears, the greatest rap song of all time.

Everything is here. The ancient, intentionally discordant organ loop that is haunting as all balls, and behind rhymes from these Wu members, not to mention the single greatest verse in the history of rap, from the RZA, which goes a little something like this:

I’m the camouflaged chameleon, ninjas scalin’ your building/ No time to grab the gun they already got your wife and children/ A hit was sent from the president/ To raid your residence/ Because you had secret evidence and documents on how they raped the continents/ Now it’s the prominent, dominant Islamic, Asiatic Black Hebrew/ In the Year 2002 the battle’s still with the Wu, 6 million devils just died from the bubonic flu/ Or the Ebola virus/ Under the reign of King Cyrus/ You can see the weakness of a man right through his iris/ Unlaw you snakes get thrown in boiling lakes of hot oil/ Boils your skin chicken heads getting skinned like olive oil/ Only packed the seed deep inside fertile soil/ Fortified with essential vitamin and mineral to the sky pro blanket stuffed far inside my pillow/ Rolling with a Land Rover/ Tribe’s 144,000 Trojans, but voltrons electrons always cause explosions.”

And there’s the GZA, following that verse with his typical laid-back style, as if to say through telepathy, what just happened, “This is my album!”

RZA shake the track? Yes. Yes, I’d say that’s quite correct…

First Verse: Ghostface Killah

Second Verse: Killah Priest

Third Verse: RZA

Fourth Verse: GZA

Explore posts in the same categories: Tunes

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