Clash counts down the very best cuts to be branded with the Wu-Tang seal of approval...

Set to reunite for both a set of live dates – check the UK events here – and a new studio album, New York crew the Wu-Tang Clan have, for over 20 years, been at the forefront of the east coast rap scene.

Inspirational, confrontational, innovative and globe-conquering: from their 1993 debut album ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’ to this July’s possible swansong of ‘A Better Tomorrow’, the multi-membered manifestation of a very singular hip-hop mindset has followed its own, unique path.

Several splinter solo LPs have proved outstanding, too, MCs such as Ghostface Killah, Method Man, GZA and Raekwon delivering certifiable genre classics.

To say there’s an abundance of brilliance to be found across the Wu-Tang catalogue – covering group affairs and solo standouts, as well as guest turns – is understatement indeed. Yet here Clash has attempted to summarise the Clan’s brilliance in just 10 cuts. Some you know, some you might not. Enjoy the history as we set about welcoming a new album – one that might be their last.

(Songs/clips contain language that may offend!)

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Ghostface Killah – ‘Save Me Dear’

(Taken from the 'Wu-Tang vs The Beatles: Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers' mixtape)

This mixtape has been removed from the Internet for obvious legal reasons - but if you have a hunt you can still find it lurking, available to download. Although it’s mediocre for the most part, the couple of tracks that get it just right reward the effort it’ll take to find ‘…Magical Mystery Chambers’. This one mashes up She & Him's cover of The Beatles’ cover of Smokey Robinson's 'You've Really Got A Hold On Me' with one of Ghostface's offerings from his ‘Pretty Toney’ phase. The elements fit together perfectly, the result sounding more like the original than the original does.

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Raekwon feat. Nas – ‘Verbal Intercourse’

(Taken from 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…')

Featuring what many people consider to be Nas's best-ever verse, this track reserved its place on this list before Raekwon even opened his mouth.

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Wu-Tang Clan – ‘Can It Be All So Simple’

(Taken from ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’)

It's tough to pick standout tracks from Wu-Tang's seminal ‘36 Chambers’, but this is a favourite. From the moment Gladys Knight's 'The Way We Were' sample gets swallowed up by a beat that sounds like it was produced underwater, it's probably the most relaxed Raekwon and Ghostface have ever seemed on record.

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Wu-Tang Clan – 'M.E.T.H.O.D. Man'

(Taken from ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’)

"M - E - T - H - O - D, MAN!" This writer’s favourite member, hands down…

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Ol’ Dirty Bastard feat. Kelis – ‘Got Your Money’

(Taken from ‘N***a Please’)

One of ODB's most commercial hits, this track features a killer chorus from Kelis over an even-more-killer beat by The Neptunes. It still sounds just as fresh played in a club today as I'm sure it did on its release 14 years ago (when yours truly was nine and way too young to know what Ol' Dirty did to make his money…). The track also contains some of ODB's most outrageous quotables, and shows off the crazy personality he became infamous for.

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Raekwon feat. Ghostface Killah, Method Man and Cappadonna – ‘Ice Cream’

(Taken from 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…')

To own a Wu-Tang 'French Vanilla' t-shirt is the stuff of dreams - and years of fruitless eBay searches haven’t deterred your correspondent from making this dream a reality. But, for now, let’s just watch the video again…

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The Notorious B.I.G. feat. Method Man – ‘The What’

(Taken from ‘Ready To Die’)

Biggie Smalls might be the illest, but Method Man comes in a pretty close second. 

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Method Man and Ghostface Killah – Zoo York freestyle

Although this isn't an official track, it's definitely some of Ghostface and Method Man's finest work. Hearing this for the first time years ago on a Zoo York mixtape, this writer set about killing herself trying to find the track it belonged to. The happiness of finally succeeding and getting to hear the line, “Check this wicked flow I de-lie-ver / Whoops I mean de-liv-er, like the Hudson River” as many times as I liked… It never gets old!

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GZA feat. Inspectah Deck and Life – ‘Cold World’

(Taken from ‘Liquid Swords’)

1995’s ‘Liquid Swords’ is one of the best records to come out of the Wu-Tang Clan, and this song is an anthem. Last summer the album was reissued with a genuine miniature chess set inside, and it's been on heavy rotation since. Life's unpolished and emotionally strained rendition of Stevie Wonder's 'Rocket Love' in the chorus adds incredible grit to match the harshness of GZA's story of the ghetto.

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Wu-Tang Clan – ‘Protect Ya Neck’

(Taken from ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’)

It had to be, right? Wu-Tang again and again...

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Wu-Tang Clan’s sixth studio album, ‘A Better Tomorrow’ – rumoured to be their final collaborative collection – is released in July, marking 20 years since the release of ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’. 

Words: Hayley Brown


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