Let me state something right off the bat: I am more than qualified to write this blog. I have an insatiable thirst for real Hip Hop music. It’s my favorite thing on this Earth. I live for Hip Hop, intellectually stimulating fictional content, competitive athletics, Kombucha, bar food, and prone boning. That’s really all that matters to me. Do I occasionally lose arguments or make mistakes with facts? Sure. Just the other day A Train corrected me on a Dilated Peoples / Black Sheep egregious error. I might be a prone boning Adonis, but I am a human in regards to everything else. That being said, if you want to challenge my Hip Hop authority, we can certainly battle. I’ll rip ya to pieces with verbal venom. It is known.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s begin. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time. The Wu Tang Clan is arguably the most influential and intimidating faction in all of entertainment. What they’ve managed to accomplish as individuals and a sect isn’t quantifiable. They loom large as individuals, but as a group, they can’t be challenged. Period. This a crew that took over Staten Island from the Cosa Nostra. Google it – the FBI had a massive case building against them until it mysteriously got thrown out. Their verbal warfare aside, they’ll just flat out make you disappear. And for this very reason, I couldn’t love them more. They transcend Hip Hop and have gone mainstream while maintaining their core image. They’re nothing to fuck with, and I want to tell you why. These rankings are done with love for each of them, but some have just accomplished and/or contributed more. Some also mean more to me personally, and I’ll explain why in their sections. Without further ado, let’s dance, shall we?
‘Ol Dirty Bastard is post ominously listed as his contributions are incomplete. Please know that this man could have very easily been at the top of the rankings. His style, which was very much bitten by the singing rappers of today, was cultivated by RZA and GZA + way ahead of its time. His first solo album is a gem and his hooks / intros to some of the classic Wu Tang joints are flawless. ‘Ol Dirt had a flow and manner that truly was priceless. He also had the curse of being a drug addict without a solution. I miss him, and I wish the sobriety movement had been around a bit sooner so someone might have reached him before he drugged himself to an early grave. There are rumors of a Tracy Morgan driven bio pic being in the works, and I’d be there opening night. Tracy is the only person who might be able to channel ODB aka BBJ aka Dirt McGirt aka the ‘Ol Dirty Chinese Restaurant. I hope they don’t fuck it up.
- Masta Killa
Name one Masta Killa solo track. I’m waiting. This is the only spot in the ranks I had no issue concluding on. He just hasn’t done enough or had the opportunities to produce. He hasn’t had vehicles outside of rapping, and his rapping career is pretty flimsy compared to the rest of the Wu. Sorry MK, you’re in the basement.
Didn’t want to do this. Wanted to list him above the person below him. “Keynote Speaker” is better than any solo album homeboy below him spit out. God has verses that shatter the Earth. And God can throw his damn hands. There are rumors that no one in the Wu would step to him and try to chuck nucks. He has a ridiculously vicious in alias in Golden Arms. Two more of his solo albums, “Golden Arms Redemption” and “Dopium,” hold their own. Not amazing, but both solid contributions. He’s featured on Raekwon’s iconic track “Knuckleheadz” and his flow is pretty fucking nice on almost every track he steps on. He opens up “Chessboxin” with some flamethrower shit, and he is one of the most underrated, mulit-faceted MC’s ever. The dude even beat boxes – he started his career doing that for Cappadonna. Unfortunately, his resume is pretty weak outside of his rhymes, and his overall contribution to the culture isn’t as significant as the other members of the clan.
This might be viewed as controversial. I don’t give a shit. As much as RZA has accomplished, he’s an asshole. He’s an asshole who has prevented the group from making more albums, and his alliance with a producer named Silver Rings nearly destroyed Wu Tang Clan. Please know I believe RZA is a maestro. He’s one of the best producers of all time. His ability to mix the sounds of Kung Fu movies with boom bap beats created a sound that fuels the Wu. He knows this and he’ll tell you this – maybe in the first few words of the conversation. U-God wanted to beat his ass. So did Raekwon. So did Ghostface. Method Man played peacekeeper every time. I can’t get my arms around why RZA tried to be bigger than the group – he went a little too Hollywood. After he did the score for “Kill Bill,” something changed. I saw the Clan in LA in 2014 and RZA was chugging champagne on stage. It was staggering to witness. I thought Chef and Ghost were going to shoot him on the stage. Eventually, his attitude shift led to Ghostface taking over as producer for the upcoming Wu Tang album. If their two leaks from it are any indication, it’s going to be their best work since “36 Chambers.” RZA had to step back, and to his credit, he did. Mainly because he tried to make an album for museums and the shithead pharmaceutical scumbag bought it, but hey, at least he stepped back. I’d be remised if I didn’t mention his best solo album, “Bobby Digital,” as A Train and I used to religiously mimic its most memorable element. “BOBBY, BOBBY, BOBBY! DIGI, DIGI, DIGI!”
This is where it gets insanely difficult for me. Each of these next artists are in my personal top 15 MC’s of all time. That’s how good Wu Tang Clan really is. It’s an insane collection of talent. The #5 member of this group is the Genius – the only and only GZA. “Liquid Swords” is an insanely amazing and important album. It’s probably the third best solo album from the Wu members. I saw him do the whole record live and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. His voice hasn’t aged – he sounds INCREDIBLE live. GZA is the best lyricist of these dudes, but he hasn’t produced enough material. His much anticipated fourth solo LP, “Dark Matter” is like “Winds of Winter.” We’ve heard some of it – it’s incredible – but is it ever going to get released? GZA recently did a lecture on molecular biology at the University of Montreal in verse. He fucking spit the whole lecture. This cat is truly an intellectual icon. I need to mention his second LP, “Beneath the Surface.” It’s the shit. So many bangers on the record, and it gets swept under the rug. It’s arguably the 6th best solo studio album from the group. Hate listing him here, but it speaks to the dudes above him and he simply hasn’t produced the content.
- Inspectah Deck
The Rebel INS. Unquestionably the most underrated MC in Hip Hop history. His verses on “Protect Ya Neck” and “Triumph” are the two best in the history of the culture. The legend goes that he spit his verse on “Triumph” in the studio and all the other guys either dropped their paper or ripped them up. Method Man had the stones to go next, and as solid as it was, they all knew that Deck had just created something special. “I bomb atomically – Socrates philosophies and hypocrisies -lyrically perform armed robberies!” It gives me the chills. When he was featured on Gang Starr’s opus, “Above the Clouds,” he changed things again. He hits me in the heart, gut, and lungs on that verse. Deck continues to create absolute fire as he’s paired with Esoteric to form Czarface, the villain Hip Hop needs. Their first of now three studio records is chock full of bangers. “Air ‘Em Out” is one of my go to thump tracks, and it was the first joint I cherished as I rediscovered Hip Hop and put down the Oxy Contin. The only reason Deck isn’t #1 is his solo albums just aren’t that good. He was supposed to have his released right after Method Man released “Tical,” but their studio flooded and his work was lost. RZA has stated it was the best music he’s ever made, and it couldn’t be recreated. That’s the story of the Rebel – his whole career he’s been lost in the Hip Hop flood. I need you all to know that this man is a motherfucking beast and a legend. Mad respect to INS/Czarface.
The Chef. The boss. The Megadon. Raekwon lived in Cuba before Americans could do so. He got a spot on the beach, and he posted up there without a care in the world. “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” is the second best solo album of the crew and created Mafioso rap. He gave Nas the blessing to call himself “Nas Escobar.” Nas felt he needed to ask Raekwon – can you believe that? That shows how much weight this dude carries in the game (he carries actual weight as well, Raek is fat as hell these days). Raekwon has so many fire verses that they are impossible to list, and he is extremely consistent with his bars. The one complaint I’d make is that he has recorded A LOT of cool 16’s on shitty tracks. He’s featured on a bunch of dudes who simply don’t represent the culture. And Raekwon keeps to himself – you’ll never see Raek in a film or TV show. I commend that piece of his existence. Chef is so secretive that you know he’s still cooking and moving weight. He spits what he lives, and he does it masterfully. That’s why he claims the third spot.
- Ghostface Killah
The hardest decision on these ranks was whether to have Raek or Ghost ranked higher. Their best friends and basically make their solo albums shared LPs. The difference came down to Ghost’s having the best solo album of the group and a top five record in Hip Hop history in “Supreme Clientele.” He also has a much stronger body of work as a whole – “Ironman” is the #4 or #5 solo album of the group, “Fish Scale” is a dope record filled with bangers, and both “Sour Soul” and “12 Reasons to Die are musical achievements. Tony Starks is simply a monster on the mic. Him and Raekwon have their own language when they rhyme. Ghost takes it to another level with his raspy delivery and staccato punctuation on slow, jazzy beats. He also eviscerated that fat fucking poser Action Bronson when Bronson denied biting his style – wearing a Cardinals jacket, no less! Ghost gets numero dos.
- Method Man
Was there really ever a doubt? The second coolest man on the planet next to Michael Jordan, Clifford Smith aka Method Man is the smoothest MC who ever lived. His solo work outside of the group is somewhat lackluster with “Tical 200” being the only true classic, but his work with Redman is legitimate as hell with “Blackout” being a top 15 album ever, and his contributions to the group are second to Deck from a “wickedest verse” standpoint. Fuck, even the group collectively made the decision to push him out there first, with Meth getting the only standalone track on “36 Chambers.” He’s the only guy featured on “Ready to Die.” He’s Cheese fucking Wagstaff and called the whole world “Cottage Cheese Chest ass Mafucka’s!” He smokes blunts and moves his head and neck on stage like a magician and is THE BEST live performer next to Outkast in Hip Hop. Johnny Blaze aka Iron Lung aka Ticallion the Black Stallion gets the top spot. Fux with it.
Blogged by Prone Bone Malone