38. Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Wu Tang Clan ain’t nothin’ to fuck wit!
Truer words have ever been said. In 12 tracks the brooklyn rap groups debut managed to terrify parents, blow up the radio and give a nerdy white kid like myself more than a healthy dose of geek references.
36 Chambers uses simplistic beats, audio clips from the Clan’s favorite kung-fu flicks and each members unique rapping styles to create a sound entirely their own. Easily one of the greatest rap albums ever made and undeniably one of the greatest debuts in hip-hop (racking along Straight outta Compton and Ready to Die) the Clan have never been able to top the insanity of their first album.
I don’t want to sound like their follow-ups were bad, they certainly weren’t but they always had elements that definitely took away what made this first record so perfect. The beats were less sloppy in future releases, Ol Dirty Bastard had passed away and at least 3 of the members became mini-actors.
I remember the first time I ever heard this was shortly after it’s release. My cousin was spending the weekend at my house and we went to the used CD store behind my house (side note: that CD store was only there a year or so but I have many memories of it. I’ll discuss it in a future Self Observation Sunday). He walked over and picked up this as well as the Insane in the Brain single from Cypress Hill. I remember listening to it on his walkman and not knowing what to think of it. As a pretty sheltered kid who rarely cursed I felt like at any second my mom was going to appear and scold me.
It wasn’t until many years later listening to X-Games Volume 2 (which contained Protect Ya Neck) that began to appreciate the Wu and decided to pick up the album. It’s impossible to pick a favorite track as every song has it’s own unique appeal but I will say that Protect Ya Neck and Method Man were hit singles for good reasons.
One of my favorite things about Wu-Tang Clan as a kid in his 20’s was the realization that despite being able to kick the living shit out of most people they were pretty geeky. References to Marvel superheroes, Kung-fu films, Voltron and other nerdy things are scattered throughout. My favorite ‘non-gangsta’ element is in the song Method Man. Not only is the chorus a reference to a Hall & Oates song but the first line is a Rolling Stones reference. How fucking awesome is that?
There will never be another record like Enter the Wu-Tang and frankly, I’m okay with that.
Wu Tang Killa Bees, we on a-swarm!