Emerging in 1993, when Dr. Dre's G-funk had overtaken the hip-hop world, the Staten Island, NY-based Wu-Tang Clan proved to be the most revolutionary rap group of the mid-'90s - and only partially because of their music. Turning the standard concept of a hip-hop crew inside out, the Wu-Tang Clan were assembled as a loose congregation of nine MCs, almost as a support group. Instead of releasing one album after another, the Clan was designed to overtake the record industry in as profitable a fashion as possible - the idea was to establish the Wu-Tang as a force with their debut album and then spin off into as many side projects as possible. In the process, the members would all become individual stars as well as receive individual royalty checks. Surprisingly, the plan worked. All of the various Wu-Tang solo projects elaborated on the theme the group laid out on their 1993 debut, the spare, menacing Enter the Wu-Tang. Taking their group name from an powerful, mythical kung fu sword wielded by an invincible congregation of warriors, the crew is a loose collective of nine MCs. All nine members work under a number of pseudonyms, but they are best known as RZA (aka Prince Rakeem, aka Rzarecta, Chief Abbot, and Bobby Steels; born Robert Diggs), GZA/Genius (aka Justice and Maxi Million; born Gary Grice), Ol' Dirty Bastard (aka Unique Ason, Joe Bannanas, Dirt McGirt, Dirt Dog, and Osirus; born Russell Jones), Method Man (aka Johnny Blaze, Ticallion Stallion, Shakwon, and Methical; born Clifford Smith, Raekwon the Chef (aka Shallah Raekwon and Lou Diamonds; born Corey Woods), Ghostface Killah (aka Tony Starks and Sun God; born Dennis Coles), U-God (aka Golden Arms, Lucky Hands, Baby U, and 4-Bar Killer; born Lamont Hawkins), Inspectah Deck (aka Rebel INS and Rollie Fingers; born Jason Hunter), and Masta Killa (aka Noodles; born Elgin Turner). The vision of the Wu-Tang Clan is undoubtedly due to the musical skills of RZA. Under his direction, the group - through its own efforts and the solo projects, all of which he produced or co-produced - created a hazy, surreal, and menacing soundscape out of hardcore beats, eerie piano riffs, and minimal samples. Over these surrealistic backing tracks, the MCs rapped hard, updating the old-school attack with vicious violence, martial arts imagery, and a welcome warped humor. By 1995, the sound was one of the most instantly recognizable in hip-hop. It wasn't always that way. Like most rappers, they began their careers trying to get ahead whatever way they could. For RZA, that meant releasing a silly single, Ooh, I Love You Rakeem, on Tommy Boy Records in 1991. On the advice of his label and producers, he cut the humorous, lover-man single that went absolutely nowhere. Neither did the follow-up single, My Deadly Venoms. The experience strengthened his resolve to subvert and attack record-industry conventions. He found partners in Genius and Ol' Dirty Bastard. Genius had also released a record in 1991, the full-length Words From the Genius on Cold Chillin', which was preceded by the single Come Do Me. Both records were unsuccessful. After the failure of his album, Genius teamed with an old friend, Ol' Dirty Bastard, to form the crew that would evolve into the Wu-Tang Clan within a year. RZA quickly became part of the crew, as did several other local MCs, including Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, U-God, Inspectah Deck, and Masta Killa, who rarely raps. The nine rappers made a pact to a form an artistic and financial community - the Wu-Tang Clan wouldn't merely be a group, it would be its own industry. In order to do this, they decided to establish themselves through a group effort and then begin to spread the word through solo projects, picking up additional collaborators along the way and, in the process, becoming stronger and more influential. The first Wu-Tang Clan single, the hard-hitting Protect Ya Neck, appeared on their own independent label and became an underground hit. Soon, the record labels were offering them lucrative contracts. The group held out until they landed a deal that would allow each member to record solo albums for whatever label they chose - in essence, each rapper was a free agent. Loud/RCA agreed to the deal, and the band's debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang, appeared in November of 1993. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful; although its financial success wasn't immediate, it was the result of a slow build. C.R.E.A.M., released in early 1994, was the single that put them over the top and won them a devoted following. The group wasted no time in pursuing other projects, as a total of five of the members - Genius, RZA, Raekwon, Method Man, and Ol' Dirty Bastard - landed solo contracts as a result of the success of C.R.E.A.M. RZA was the first to re-enter the studio, this time as a member of the Gravediggaz, a group he founded; in addition to RZA, who was rechristened RZArecta, the group included De La Soul producer Prince Paul, Stetsasonic's Frukwan, and Brothers Grimm's Poetic. The Gravediggaz's album 6 Feet Deep appeared in August 1994; it eventually would go gold. Labeled "horrorcore" by the group, it was an ultra-violent but comical tour de force that demonstrated RZA's production prowess. Shortly after its release, Raekwon released his first single, Heaven and Hell, on the Fresh soundtrack; the song was produced by RZA and featured Ghostface Killah. The first Wu-Tang member to become a major solo star was Method Man. In November 1994, he released Tical on Def Jam Recordings, the first official Wu-Tang solo album. Again, RZA produced the album, creating a dense, dirty sonic collage. Tical became a big hit in early 1995, as did Meth's duet with Mary J. Blige, I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By. Ol' Dirty Bastard followed Method Man's breakthrough success with Return to the 36 Chambers, which appeared in March 1995 on Elektra Records. Thanks to the hits "Brooklyn Zoo" and "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," the record became a gold success. Out of all the solo albums, it was the one that sounded the most like Enter the Wu-Tang, although it did have a more pronounced comic bent, due to Ol' Dirty's maniacal vocals. Tales From the Hood, a movie soundtrack featuring Inspectah Deck's first solo track, appeared in May. Later in 1995, the two most critically acclaimed Wu-Tang records appeared: Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and Genius/GZA's Liquid Swords. Raekwon released his album on Loud/RCA in August 1995; the record featured extensive contributions - a total of 12 songs - from Ghostface Killah, his greatest exposure yet. Genius' second solo album was released by Geffen Records in November 1995. In February of 1996, Ghostface Killah's first solo track, Winter Warz, appeared on the Don't Be a Menace to South Central While You're Drinking Your Juice in the Hood soundtrack. Later that October, he released his own solo debut, the critically acclaimed, '70s soul-flavored Ironman; the record was the first released on RZA's new Epic subsidiary, Razor Sharp Records. The Wu-Tang Clan finally reconvened and returned with their second album, the double-CD Wu-Tang Forever, in June of 1997. Hugely anticipated, the album entered the charts at number one - selling over 600,000 copies in its first week alone - and quickly spawned the hit single Triumph. There were several contributions from guest associate Cappadonna, who'd appeared on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and Ironman. The group toured extensively in support of the album. In the meantime, the next phase of the Wu-Tang plan started to take shape: unearthing new associates and spinning the resulting stable of talent into a brand-name franchise. A group of Wu protégés dubbed Killarmy released their debut album, Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars, on Priority Records in August 1997, drawing heavily upon the Clan's martial imagery. 1998, however, was truly the year for Wu-relate Book Wu Tang Clan for shows and concerts at Heavy Rotation booking agency. Worldwide Bookings with HR Booking. Wu Tang Clan Booking, Book Wu Tang Clan. 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