WUTANGSacha Jen­kins pro­duc­tion ‘Of Mics and Men’ on Mass Appeal is a four-epis­ode doc­user­ies of in my opin­ion the best rap col­lect­ive to ever emerge – The Wu Tang Clan. Its title works on clev­er word­play based on John Steinbeck’s lit­er­ary clas­sic, ‘Of Mice and Men’ as in the same way this series explores friend­ships and dreams.

Wu Tang changed hip hop with a sound no one had ever heard before or ever has since. They were true pion­eers of rap and took it to glob­al heights. Con­sist­ing of nine ori­gin­al mem­bers; RZA, GZA, Ghost­face Kil­lah, Ol’ Dirty Bas­tard, Meth­od Man, Inspec­tah Deck, Masta Killa and U‑God.  Each one was able to hold their own with suc­cess­ful indi­vidu­al albums of unique style and con­tent and when they came togeth­er they were unstop­pable.

The first epis­ode opens with the famil­i­ar sounds of clash­ing swords from Kung Fu films that inspired their concept, ‘Wu Tang was the best sword style and our tongues are like swords’. RZA walks us through his home adorned with gold and plat­in­um plaques dis­play­ing the fruits of his labour to join the rest of the clan in the stu­dio. We cut to Meth­od Man and his verse just takes me back! Those gritty beats RZA is renowned for pro­du­cing have really stood the test of time.

The series con­tin­ues to show mem­bers of the Wu Tang reunited sit­ting in the grand St George’s movie theatre in Staten Island to dis­cuss their per­son­al memor­ies of their jour­ney, not always in agree­ment but united in all the have achieved, togeth­er. It felt good to hear their story nar­rated through their own voices, of how their rise to suc­cess helped them achieve ‘eco­nom­ic free­dom’ to escape the poverty and racism in the pro­jects and their influ­ences from the 5 per­cent nation, an off­shoot of the Nation of Islam.

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We take a jour­ney with them to Park Hill in Staten Island where it all began. It soon becomes evid­ent exactly how they became cul­tur­al icons, firmly believ­ing in them­selves not allow­ing record com­pan­ies to have full con­trol over their artistry. RZA had a vis­ion set­ting up Wu Tang Pro­duc­tions through which he signed all mem­bers to Loud records as a group but con­vinced Steve Rif­kind at Loud to allow each indi­vidu­al mem­ber the free­dom to sign with oth­er record com­pan­ies. This at the time was unheard of in the music industry.

We saw the more human aspects of each indi­vidu­al, Meth­od Man talks about work­ing at statue of liberty as one of the high­lights of his life as his first job, even after the fame and money from music, show­ing his humil­ity he even takes to sweep­ing the floor. U‑God also used to work there and cleaned the toi­lets as a jan­it­or. Some of the hon­est real­it­ies of which were shock­ing. Ghost­face describes his hurt in think­ing back to not tak­ing his young­er sib­lings out­side to play as they had mus­cu­lar dys­trophy, U‑God shares foot­age of his two year old son recov­er­ing after he was shot in the spleen. RZA talks about not want­ing to go to the same school as his broth­ers as they only had three pairs of trousers between them and had to rotate what they wore, being in the same school it was more obvi­ous. Meth­od Man thinks back times he spent in a shel­ter for abused women with his moth­er, describ­ing how it was hard to see the friends he had made inside leave, but it hasn’t the type of place any­one stayed in per­man­ently. He even gives names of people he con­sidered his friends, say­ing they may be sur­prised he remem­bers them, but he will nev­er for­get.

There is a lot of foot­age of ODB with his moth­er and wife as we see the run up to his sad death. A much loved and dearly missed ori­gin­al mem­ber of Wu. The clan remin­isce on ODB giv­ing them hope when they doubted them­selves and the raw energy and unique char­ac­ter he had.

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As well as an hon­esty about money mat­ters through­out this series, they still came togeth­er in ‘broth­er­hood’. There seemed to be no hard feel­ings when Ghost­face acted on impulse on stage at Hot 97 show cost­ing the group a ten-year ban from Hot 97 radio which adversely had a massive impact on their record sales and expos­ure.

RZA addresses his embrace for mul­ti­cul­tur­al crowds and his vis­ion for Wu Tang tran­scend­ing above racism, some­thing you will see if you have ever atten­ded any of their shows. There is an hon­est real­isa­tion that this is the reas­on they sold so many records.

I only wish Mar­tin Shkreli had been left out of this doc­u­ment­ary entirely as he has already taken up too much of Wu’s time, but his pur­chase of the sole copy of ‘Once Upon a time in Shaol­in’ helped them make his­tory and appear in the glob­al media. I wrote to Shkreli sev­er­al years go to express my feel­ings of angst for his dis­respect for Wu Tang in how he treated the album, sur­pris­ingly he replied say­ing they were try­ing to do some­thing that had nev­er been done before and Wu Tang made his­tory. He had a point, even the FBI was send­ing tweets about not hav­ing con­fis­cated the album.

A quarter of a cen­tury later, the clan admit that only come togeth­er for busi­ness pur­poses now, hav­ing grown apart, but that is to be expec­ted as they’ve known each oth­er since they were five years old and everything they have exper­i­enced since. RZA states, ‘at any giv­en time when they come togeth­er there is a good­ness of energy’. The will always be broth­ers through­out their ups and downs.

One of the best doc­u­ment­ar­ies I’ve seen in a long time, it made me love Wu even more than I thought I did. Even as a fan I learnt new facts such as Math­em­at­ics was respons­ible for design­ing the logo and he only received $400 at the time for a sym­bol which is now glob­ally recog­nised. I could have watched Wu dis­cuss their lives for many more epis­odes, they brought the world focus back to real issues and dis­cus­sions so their leg­acy will always live on. We all know… Wu Tang is Forever.



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Faizah Cyanide

Faizah Cyanide

Faizah works in clin­ic­al research by pro­fes­sion and has been an avid Hip Hop lov­er since the early 90’s, hav­ing cre­ated her own Hip Hop event, ‘Breakin’ Bound­ar­ies’ in the early 2000’s which was pre­dom­in­antly based around the concept of bboy battles, she has worked with sev­er­al inter­na­tion­al events pro­moters and dan­cers to inspire oth­ers through this art­form.

About Faizah Cyanide

Faizah Cyanide
Faizah works in clinical research by profession and has been an avid Hip Hop lover since the early 90's, having created her own Hip Hop event, 'Breakin' Boundaries' in the early 2000's which was predominantly based around the concept of bboy battles, she has worked with several international events promoters and dancers to inspire others through this artform.