MNR: Divine Wu Mathematics, Part One
A couple of years prior, a scholarly debate sprung amongst a few Crew members, sparked by the release and success of the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton. The question at hand was what, if any, would be the next great rap biopic? After throwing several possible names out, one name became the consensus choice: The Wu Tang Clan. Most agreed, one dissented. But the overall question was how can you make a two to three hour biopic that accurately captures the essence of a nine or ten man collective? The final verdict was that it’d be damn near impossible. I mean, we’re talmbout the greatest supergroup in MUSIC history. We’re talmbout the RZA, the GZA,, Ol’ Dirty Bastard (RIP big bro), Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Masta Killah, and Cappadonna (gotta include him, it’s only right). End of the day, Crew UnB was correct in its corporate analysis. There were too many bruvas in the Clan to make a single movie about. Further thought suggested a possible VH1 type mini-series. But end of the day, we’re not talmbout some R&B collective (no shade to my nuccas New Edition). We don’t wanna see Bokeem Woodbine playing Deck and Terrance Howard playing Baby U. Yours truly playing Shallah Raekwon. So that theory quickly found the nearest waste basket. And that was that. We figured that if we did see something with regard to the Wu it wouldn’t be cinematic. Luckily, Mass Appeal and Showtime delivered just what we needed. They gave us a documentary, but not just any run of the mill doc. No. They gave us a four part documentary series with over four hours of material, titled Of Mics and Men. The four parts gave a chronological history of the Clan, beginning with their origins in Shaolin and Medina (that’s Staten Island and Brooklyn for you 85ers). It progressed through their upbringing and the peril they faced as school kids on a historically racially divided Staten Island. It delves into pre-Wu with the original three members, cousins RZA, GZA, and ODB, then known as the All In Together Crew as well as the failures of RZA and GZA under their pre Wu solo record deals as Prince Rakeem and the Genius. It chronicles RZA’s vision after solo failure and how it led to the formation of the Clan, culminating in their seminal debut Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers. The rest is known history, even to casual fans. But the fruit (even to Wu aficionados like myself) was in the in-depth analysis of their inner business dealings with Power and Divine, and how RZA guided the individual paths of each member. It gave interesting perspective on what led to the tough times the Clan faced internally after achieving legendary group and individual status. It even (finally) spoke on the mysterious $2M project they “made” that was sold to only one person (that was some shit all the way around). But most importantly, the documentary series allowed us the privilege of hearing each member’s story in his own words and from his own perspective. And, while it was sad to see the “demise” of the group, it was ultimately uplifting to see every living member under a single roof and in harmony. That’s everything at the end of the day. Let no man or any dollar amount take asunder. But that’s real fucking easy to say until there’s literally millions at stake. And we’re talmbout project kids who rose to global stardom from absolutely nothing. Money naturally divides. That’s a motif we know all too well. I guess what’s really sad is how it can exist when there’s so much to go around. But that’s the nature of man. And family and squad in your ear coaxing you to question everything money related only adds diesel fuel to the fire. I’m just personally happy that time seems to have healed most, if not all internal issues. But time has a tendency to do that. Bottom line—-Of Mics and Men is a must see doc for all Wu heads, rap junkies, casual fans, and hip hop know-it-all’s alike. Twist an eighth of that good shit up, pour up big, and binge watch. It’ll make your day. I’m through y’all. Time to shake a leg and get up in the wind suga. Peace.