Up from the 36 Chambers, straight from the rugged lands of Shaolin, the Wu-Tang Clan catalog has moved Downtown.
That is to say, we've signed a deal with Wu-Tang Productions owners RZA and Mitchell “Divine” Diggs to represent its interest in Wu-Tang's catalog, covering the legendary hip-hop group's co-founders Ghostface Killah, GZA, Inspectah Deck, Method Man, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Raekwon, RZA, and U-God. To celebrate, we've created a couple of playlists: Wu-Tang Saga, highlighting some of our favorite Wu standards and deep cuts from their studio albums, and Wu-Tang Legacy — featuring b-sides, mixtape joints, and hidden darts by the group and individual members, as well as music by other celebrated artists that samples, interpolates, or otherwise derives from classic Wu material, all part of the represented catalog.
Sequenced in chronological order, Wu-Tang Legacy kicks off with RZA's seminal single "Ooh I Love You Rakeem." Released using the moniker Prince Rakeem in 1991, before adopting his most recognizable pseudonym, the song is noticeably atypical of the raw, gritty, signature sound that RZA and Wu-Tang would become known for. Its creation was chronicled in the partially fictionalized 2019 Hulu biopic Wu-Tang: An American Saga, for which RZA recently received an Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music Emmy nod.
The playlist proceeds with selections from Method Man's Tical, the first solo project from a Wu-Tang member following the group's 1993 debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), then Mobb Deep's sophomore album, The Infamous — which features verses from both Ghost and Rae, the latter on multiple cuts. Tracks from other artists and mixtapes featuring various Wu-Tang emcees are also included, as is their extensive work for original motion picture soundtracks like High School High, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, and The Man with the Iron Fists (which RZA co-wrote, directed, and starred in).
Besides music actually recorded by group members, the playlist also highlights songs that were inspired by or derive from classic Wu works. For example, elements of "Can It Be All So Simple" from 36 Chambers were used in the 1998 Lauryn Hill single "Ex-Factor" from her debut solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which itself was later sampled and interpolated in two massive 2018 hits: Drake's "Nice for What" and Cardi B's "Be Careful," respectively. Tracks by Alicia Keys, Danny Brown, Freddie Gibbs, Lil Wayne, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Nas, Pete Rock, Rick Ross, Swizz Beatz, The Game, Wyclef Jean, and many others are included under similar circumstances, as well.
Beyond the music on our playlists, Wu-Tang's influence can be seen and heard across genres, artistic mediums, industries, and generations. A testament to their timelessness, the group’s music was even recently reimagined by kid-friendly record label Rockabye Baby for the company's 100th release, Lullaby Renditions of Wu-Tang Clan, part of their popular children’s music series. Though not included in the Downtown-represented catalogs, further proving that “Wu-Tang is for the children” (as Ol’ Dirty Bastard famously proclaimed while interrupting a GRAMMY Awards acceptance speech in 1998), RZA even wrote a new ice cream truck jingle for the Good Humor company last month.