Tag Archives: Wu-Tang Clan

9 of the best – sounds of 1993

A compilation treat for the May Day holiday. Looking back at 1993, the world of popular music was a-changing… Björk was doing her own thing at the crossroads, house music had grown up a little less exciting, and hip hop was showing temporary signs of sophistication…

Björk – Venus As A Boy

Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M.

Sabres Of Paradise – Smokebelch II

The Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm

U2 – Lemon (Perfecto Mix)

Grant Lee Buffalo – Fuzzy

David Bowie – The Wedding

Blur – For Tomorrow

Tindersticks – Marbles

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Honourable mentions also go to: Jeru The Damaja for ‘Come Clean‘; Masters At Work for ‘The Buff Dance‘; George Morel for ‘Let’s Groove‘; A Tribe Called Quest for ‘Electric Relaxation‘ and not too much else. A quarter of a century after the annus mirabilis that was 1968, thin pickings were abound in 1993. That’s crossroads for you.

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Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M. (1993)

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Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man asserted that Cash Rules Everything Around Me in 1993. It is probably the standout track from their standout debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The song was produced by RZA and brilliantly samples the fragile piano melody off The Charmels’ song ‘As Long As I’ve Got You’. Have a great week.

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Cannibal Ox – Iron Galaxy (2001)

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Discovered by producer El-P, Cannibal Ox comprises the work of two rappers, Vast Aire and Vordul Megilah. Their 2001 album The Cold Vein heralded a new sound in hip hop that still sounds fresh today. It was inevitably derivative of what had passed before, especially Wu-Tang Clan, but the effect was futuristic, rambling and intriguing. The record kicked off with the classic ‘Iron Galaxy’. Have a great week.

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Gravediggaz – Diary Of A Madman (1994)

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From one marginal sound to another… guitar-lick-laden rock’n’roll is now followed by horrorcore hip hop. Gravediggaz released 6 Feet Deep (aka as Niggamortis anywhere outside the US). ‘Diary of a Madman’ is one of the album’s standout tracks, featuring Scientific Shabazz on guest verse and RZA providing the beat only a few months after the release of Wu-Tang’s classic 36 Chambers. “I’ve been examined ever since I was semen/They took a sonogram and seen the image of a demon/At birth the nurses surrounded me with needles/and drugged me all up with the diseases of evil.” Yeh man; Johnny B. Bad.

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Wu-Tang vs The Beatles – Got The Money (2010)

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wu-tang-vs-the-beatles

Some sampling is less subtle. Wu-Tang vs The Beatles was created by Tom Caruana and released at the start of 2010. The album features Beatles songs and cover versions mixed with much Wu-Tang. This hip hop venture was not original. Danger Mouse had ploughed this furrow with Jay-Z in 2004. However, the results were equally as pleasing. ‘Got The Money’ features the most overt use of source material – in this case, Abbey Road‘s ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’.

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The Charmels – As Long As I’ve Got You (1967)

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The Charmels

Before Isaac Hayes became the recording artist we know, he was one of the masterminds behind the southern soul music label Stax Records. In 1966, he hand-picked the band The Charmels, signed them to the label Volt Records, an R & B subsidiary of Stax Records, and oversaw their recording of ‘Please Uncle Sam’ and then ‘As Long As I’ve Got You’. 25 years later, the latter track’s opening would be given a new audience when selected by Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA as the lead sample in their own anthem ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ The chorus isn’t shoddy either.

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Wu-Tang Clan – Family Reunion (2013)

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Wu Tang Clan

Not so much about current talent this one, but a ‘Family Reunion’ of the Wu-Tang Clan is worth celebrating. This precursor to a new album samples the classic O’Jays soul number of the same name. But that’s not all, it’s 20 years since they released the pivotal ‘Protect Ya Neck‘, and you can hear it sampled at the outset. But this is not the sound of 1993. “It’s love, peace and happiness with the joy of laughter”. Cheery sentiment and looped upbeat soul. Are they going soft? I like it. Have a great weekend.

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Ghostface Killah – Shakey Dog (2006)

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Ghostface Killah

One of the more prolific members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface’s lyrical imagery has made his work so much more than just a sideshow. Off his fifth album FishScale (a term for uncut cocaine),  ‘Shakey Dog’ is the story of a coke-fuelled heist gone wrong. “Fasten your seatbelts”, he advises at the outset.  The rhyming flow that follows is astonishing, if a little colourful.

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Wu-Tang Clan – Protect Ya Neck (1993)

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Wu-Tang Clan

I noticed that Wu-Tang Clan had used Bob James’s bell and drum break on 2007’s 8 Diagrams. When the Wu-Tang hit my consciousness in mid 1990s, I was already familiar (and done) with the early gangsta sound of BDP and Schoolly D and the controversy of Ice-T and NWA. But Wu-Tang were something else altogether. Listening to their debut single ‘Protect Ya Neck’, all the interplay and rhyme of RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God and Ol’ Dirty Bastard detracts nothing from the intended darkness. This was a new dusk that would spread far beyond Shaolin Island.

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Lewis Parker – Walking On A Razor (2012)

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Also NYC-based, Lewis Parker actually hails from Canterbury, Kent. Parker really came to prominence for his hip-hop production on the sublime album Fishscale by ex-Wu-Tang Ghostface Killah (aka Tony Starks, aka Ironman). You can hear the Fishscale flow in ‘Walking On A Razor’, but with Parker’s signature jazz harmonies blended in. If you like your jazz soundscapes with fat beats, check out his instrumental form on 1996’s Rise and 2012’s ‘Shark‘.

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