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The Wu-Tang Marketing Plan
July 19, 2012 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Ooh I Love you Rakeem, and The Wu-Tang Marketing Plan One of the most important singles in hip-hop history wasn’t great, or even particularly good. In fact, it was terrible. Even the most die-hard hip-hop fans probably haven’t heard “Ooh I Love You Rakeem,” the title track of Prince Rakeem’s 1991 debut EP, and there’s a reason for that. Prince Rakeem, a cartoonish, vaguely international ladies’ man, was a character foisted on rapper Robert Diggs by his record label. The Prince had just one concern. Women loved him too much, and he rapped about it. When the EP flopped, Prince Rakeem effectively died. But it wasn’t in vain—his demise gave birth to hip-hop’s greatest supergroup: The Wu-Tang Clan.
posted by grippycat (39 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Rasputin's Bastards is David Nickle's latest book, an epic novel from one of horror's weirdest voices. During the cold war, the Soviets established City 512, a secret breeding experiment intended to create a race of psychic supermen. It worked far, far too well. The dreamwalkers of City 512 may have given lip-service to their masters, but in truth, they were occupied with their dreaming, the sleeper agents whom they could ride like loas, the succesive generations of dreamwalkers, each more powerful than the last, and their own power-struggles.

SOLD
posted by Artw at 4:38 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wrong store, tovarisch. This is the store that is out of hip-hop albums.
posted by griphus at 4:40 PM on July 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


CHYORT!
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on July 19, 2012


Put me down for three dozen chambers or so anyway.
posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


In the late 1960s, the term supergroup was coined to describe "a rock music group whose performers are already famous from having performed individually or in other groups".

Unless my Wu history is faulty, none of the the Clan were famous when the group was formed.

Also, I kinda like that Rakeem single.
posted by Egg Shen at 4:45 PM on July 19, 2012


Really interesting that the article doesn't even mention the other side of the Wu-Tang Clan.
posted by bwerdmuller at 4:46 PM on July 19, 2012


...that's a New York Post article about an unnamed blog with a post on it summarizing a 94-page FBI report. That's really a weekend-long hike from the truth, at best.
posted by griphus at 4:53 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


During the cold war, the Soviets established City Wu-Tang, a secret breeding experiment intended to create a race of lyric super-rappers. It worked far, far too well. The rhymesayers of City Wu-Tang may have given lip-service to their masters, but in truth, they were occupied with their rhyming, the rhytmically starved masses they could ride like loas, the successive generations of rappers, each more powerful than the last, and their own power-struggles.
posted by 256 at 5:10 PM on July 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


I still remember vividly when I first heard Wu-Tang. I was 12 or 13, waiting for my dad in the car while he was inside a store. The radio was on and it was switched to the Icelandic state broadcaster. I think they had Enter the Wu-Tang as their album of the week (I may be misremembering). Anyway, the DJ announces he's going to play "Wu-Tang Ain't Nuthin' ta F' Wit" and he does. My mind was smashed to pieces. What a goddamn song! To this day, should I ever have children and the only thing I will make sure to teach them it's that the Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothing to fuck with.
posted by Kattullus at 5:15 PM on July 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Artw, thanks, I just bought that book *and* Ian Tregillis' sequel to "Bitter Seeds"... while listening to WTC on Pandora.
posted by mrbill at 5:18 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I sometimes think the Wu-Tang Clan is the greatest thing hip-hop ever produced. The first album, along with Liquid Swords, Cuban Linx and a lot of Ghostface is just as good as the art form gets.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:20 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the buisness side Wu-Tang consists of a tangled mess of s-corps companies like 36 Chambers Records which seems to be for movie soundtracks. Razor Sharp Records, focusing mainly on Cappadonna and Ghostface Killah. Wu-Tang Records focusing on U-God and Wu-Tang associates Sunz of Man, a 5-percenter rap group focusing on conspiracy theories. And Wu Music Group which has 9th Prince from Wu-Tang affiliate group Killarmy, who have themselves been produced through 2 different Wu-Tang companies.

RZA is the CEO of all these companies.

Fuck it, I'm going to link my own comment about Protect Ya Neck, Hot 97 and seeing Wu-Tang at Hip-Hop night at The Palladium.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:25 PM on July 19, 2012


RZA Breaks Down His Kung Fu Samples by Film and Song is a great read and listen to get inside RZA's head a bit.

On the off-chance someone is here who isn't already a fan start with Enter the Wu-Tang, then Liquid Swords, then the Ghostface classics - Fishscale, Supreme Clientele, maybe Bulletproof Wallets. Next should be Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and the sequel Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2, then ODB's Return to the 36 Chambers which I love to death but probably objectively isn't as good as the others.
posted by Blue Meanie at 5:28 PM on July 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


Katullus just made me feel a lot better about the fact that if I shout out "Wu!" our three year old hollers back "Tang!".

Carry on.
posted by annathea at 5:49 PM on July 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


I very clearly remember the first time I brought my future-wife home to meet the family. We came in through the unlocked back door and my teenage sister and 50-something mother had the radio cranked and were both singing along at the top of their lungs to "Kill You" by Eminem.

You don't
want to fuck with Shady
cuz Shady
will fucking kill you.

posted by 256 at 5:59 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Nas, Raekwon,Ghostface - Verbal Intercourse,Raekwon, Method Man - Wu-Gambinos,Raekwon,
Method Man - Ice Cream
,Raekwon - Spot Rusherz from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.
Be Easy, R.A.G.U,Dogs of War. the songs produced by Pete Rock off Fishscale.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:10 PM on July 19, 2012


I have a vinyl copy of GZA's pre-Wu solo album Words From the Genius, which was release in 1991. The fact that, in just 2 short years, the All In Together Now crew managed to go from this to this is just mind blowing. Enter the Wu is the best album of all time. Hands down.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 6:15 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am not much of a rap aficionado, mostly because I don't like the word bitch or the other word frequently found in the music of hiphop, but Enter The Wu-Tang is absolutely a dazzling achievement of lyrical mastery. The first time I heard it I annoyed people for weeks by exclaiming about some of the rhymes.
posted by winna at 6:29 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the most important singles in hip-hop history wasn’t great, or even particularly good. In fact, it was terrible.

You got to hell and die!
I loved that song!!!! I had 2 copies on 12"...
posted by Theta States at 6:48 PM on July 19, 2012


Their plan was CREAM. Holler!
posted by Renoroc at 7:00 PM on July 19, 2012


Here's another early GZA single with a Rakeem feature. Except this one's actually great.
posted by MetalFingerz at 7:30 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


A Palmetto!
posted by box at 7:34 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


They seem to be friends with Bill Murray.

The fact that the world wasn't destroyed by this level of awesome is beyond my comprehension.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:41 PM on July 19, 2012


Did you never see that segment from Coffee and Cigarettes, Bunny?
posted by axiom at 7:48 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


One must wonder if the whole global economic collapse would have happened had Wu Tang Financial been in charge.

Cash rules everything around us. C.R.E.A.M., dollar dollar bill, y'all.
posted by King Bee at 7:49 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well 6 degrees of seperation, RZA knows Jarmusch from his work on the Ghost Dog soundrack and no doubt Jarmusch knows everyone cool including Bill Murray, he was in Coffee and Cigarettes.

Raekwon talks about NAS's track on Cuban Linx.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:56 PM on July 19, 2012


Is there anything that RZA can't do? Nope.
posted by mhum at 8:08 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did you never see that segment from Coffee and Cigarettes yt , Bunny?

Oh, hells yes, BILL MURRAY.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:11 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like any true renaissance man, He also just directed a Kung Fu flick.
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:00 PM on July 19, 2012


It's a shame that a group with 10 members and probably close to 50 albums under their belt have been reduced by metafilter to "friends of Bill Murray."
posted by to sir with millipedes at 10:06 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Before anyone says there are only 9 members:

RZA, GZA, ODB, Raekwon, Ghostface, Masta Killa, U-God, Inspecta Deck, Method Man, Cappadonna (who is like adjunct faculty, but he counts.)
posted by to sir with millipedes at 10:09 PM on July 19, 2012


Pretty sure u-god was still a member even when he was suing them.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:38 PM on July 19, 2012


"As STRANGE as it sounds, the genesis of The Black Keys is due, in part, to Wu-Tang Clan."

BLAKROC is still one of my favorite projects from both the RZA and the Keys. Too bad rumors of a second one were just that.

Here is some more seriously old Wu for anybody that can't get enough.
posted by sneakyalien at 10:43 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even the most die-hard hip-hop fans probably haven’t heard “Ooh I Love You Rakeem"

Conversely, I know next to squat about hip-hop but have been singing "Ooh I Love You Rakeem" for years. This is probably not something to be proud of.
posted by naoko at 8:18 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also kind of dig Ooh I Love You Rakeem.

Though, based on the lyrics, I must conclude that Rakeem is either a huge liar, or the women in question have extremely low standards for lovemaking.

But since I'm not lazy, I'm buck wild and crazy
I kiss the bussom, but never eat the daisies
And my ladies love me deeply
Because I'm handsome, charming and freaky


I'll let him have handsome and charming (begrudgingly) but I'm having a really difficult time understanding how someone can be "buck wild and crazy" and "freaky" if they don't perform cunnilingus. I mean, maybe I'm just some kind of sexual deviant, but kissing a boob or two doesn't really paint the picture of a man so good at doing it that women are lining up to experience the carnal pleasures he provides.

But man, if it all checks out... that must be some exquisite boob kissing.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:29 AM on July 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Prince Rakeem effectively died"

Wrong! His solo album "Birth of a Prince" is about Prince Rakeem.

His monicker "RZA" is the from the sound of scratching "Rakeem", ditto Genius and "GZA". That article is making a lot of presumptions about RZA based on one corny tommy-boy video. Same again, with GZA, he went by "The Genius", and the label reps wanted him to wear glasses and pose with a cap and gown.

Ultimately, Tommy Boy signed House of Pain over RZA, in no small part because he was facing an attempted murder charge in Ohio (in which he successfully defended himself and was acquitted). From the relationship with Tommy Boy, he became friends with Prince Paul, and we got the gravediggaz (the second wu-project after 36 chambers, and still one of my favorites).

I didn't see much of Wu-Tangs videos during their hayday, I didn't have MTv and outside from my friends, I didn't have too much exposure to it.

Flash forward a decade, and I become hooked on youtube, and start watching the videos for all of the music I loved, but hadn't seen.

I was _shocked_ when I saw 'protect ya neck'.

Wu-Tangs guerrilla marketing was straight up genius. I had always understood the notion that they were presenting themselves as super heroes, or hip-hop action figures, but I didn't get how thoroughly and well thought out their marketing and promotion was.

Now, this was on a shoestring budget, of a group of mostly unknowns, formed out of two very negative experiences with major labels (RZA/GZA). The early tracks were 'posse-cuts', 8 or 9 dudes all yelling with different slang and different styles. Each prominent single featured a roll-call of the other members, the videos showed text of each rapper as they were being introduced, and the video singles often were cut together with different songs, to get as much airtime for different parts of wu as possible.

Wu never "sold out", they were selling themselves incredibly well from the get-go.
RZA's role as "producer" went far beyond just putting some beats together. He held control of the 8 careers of his friends for 5 solid years, put out at least a dozen _classic_ albums in that amount of time, and turned a burley thug into a movie/tv star (Method Man), an incoherent sociopath into a prolific poet (Ghostface), and moved into scoring movie tracks himself (Kill Bill and Ghost Dog), and his kooky cousin into a walking riot (RIP-ODB). He was responsible for some pretty good music too.

If you're a hip-hop nerd like me, I found his second book, "The Tao of Wu" to be a pretty entertaining read, and covers a lot of the early years and genesis of the band.

And if you haven't seen the Gravediggaz video for "The Night The Earth Cried", you should take a look.
posted by lkc at 11:19 AM on July 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


Also, SpiffyRob, if you're demanding more explicit rap about cunnilingus, may I suggest Danny Brown?
posted by lkc at 12:11 PM on July 20, 2012


I knew a Puerto Rican guy, an occasional DJ who grew up in New York City, but he wasn't much impressed or intimidated by the Wu-Tang Clan. He said, "They're just a bunch of guys who sit around, smoke weed, and watch old kung fu movies. I knew at least 5 or 10 guys like that from my old neighborhood."
posted by jonp72 at 1:03 PM on July 20, 2012


Did 5 or 10 guys from his old neighborhood create a genre defining masterpiece of an album and at least 15 other classic albums besides? Your fried sounds like a dipshit.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:48 AM on July 22, 2012


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