On the 20th anniversary of the release of Wu-Tang Clan’s iconic debut, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), a number of emcees have come forward to share their memories of the Staten Island crew. Cam’ron, Jadakiss, and music industry vet Steve Rifkind are among a handful of people who revealed their memories of the group in “Wu-Forever Celebrating 20 Years Of Wu-Tang Clan,” a three-part video special put on by BET.com.
It was outside of his former high school when Harlem spitter Cam’ron says he was first introduced to the music of Wu-Tang Clan.
“I was walking out of high school, school was over, there was some other kids from my school who never go to class, outside on the corner chillin’,” said Cam. “And they was playing, I’m like ‘Yo, who is that?’ And they was like ‘Wu-Tang Clan.’ I’m like ‘Wu-Tang? What is that?’ You know when you first heard the name you like ‘What is Wu-Tang Clan? What are you talking about?’ They like ‘Nah, it’s these dudes.’ So, then I’m outside listening. I’m like ‘How many people are on this song, yo?’”
Similar to Cam’ron, Jadakiss says he also caught his first listen to the nine-man group while in high school. According to Jada, his first listen came via “Protect Ya Neck,” Wu-Tang’s debut single.
“They incorporated the whole kung-fu, the whole—they slang. They had they own slang,” said Jadakiss. “It’s nine of them. One of them wasn’t showing his face. The Ol’ Dirty that was wild, different personalities and energies. So, that was crazy. I remember somebody came with ‘Protect Ya Neck.’ First time I heard ‘Protect Ya Neck’ was in the school in the bathroom. Cause the deans would take your walkmans and radios away. Somebody snuck a black radio…And ‘Protect Ya Neck’ was on. He just kept playing it back. And I remember everybody saying, ‘What’s that?’”
In addition to commentary from various artists and music journalists, “Wu-Forever Celebrating 20 Years Of Wu-Tang Clan” also includes an appearance from Steve Rifkind, the founder of Loud Records and the man who helped launch the career of Wu-Tang.
While speaking on the group, Rifkind recalled working directly with RZA who he says was in his office every day with a list of tasks he hoped to accomplish.
“That record debuted number one in the world in every country,” said Rifkind. “So, my gut was right. And me and RZA just had the most incredible—we still have the most incredible relationship. You know, where he would come in every single day with a yellow pad and say ‘These are all the things I would like to get done.’ And I would say ‘Yes.’ And he goes ‘Why are you saying yes to me?’ I said ‘Because it makes sense.’ He goes ‘You’re the first person that ever said yes to me.’”
On the 20th anniversary of Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) those in Wu-Tang Clan have also come forward to share their early memories. Among them was Wu-Tang emcee U-God, who recently compared his relationship with Method Man to that of Batman and Robin during an interview with WuTangClan.com.
“I was really holding down Meth[od Man],” said U-God. “Me and him were more Batman and Robin in the streets. We were doing our thing because we had both gotten kicked out of our houses so we had to stand up like men and do what we had to do.”