Here’s an introduction to an album that needs no introduction, just press play. “Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers)” (1993) is the Wu Tang Clan’s debut album, produced entirely by de facto group leader RZA. The Staten Island, New York group consists of 9 rappers RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, U-God, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah, Cappadonna and Old Dirty Bastard (RIP). Wu Tang Clan is famous for employing heavy martial arts themes mixed with raw and dirty beats. You can consider their debut the cornerstone of their style and the beginning of bringing prominence back to New York. The title of the debut album originates from the asian martial arts film “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978).”
Some thoughts on 36 Chambers
1. There’s a fairly obvious and awkward break in between RZA’s “Bring tha muthafuckin’ ruckus!” and Ghostface’s beginning of the first verse. This is an early indication that if you prefer perfectionism in your music, then this isn’t for you. Which isn’t to say this isn’t perfect, (because it’s pretty damn close!) but in order to love this album you need to accept it’s rawness, have the urge to kill someone, and to BRING THA MOTHERFUCKIN RUCKUS.
2. RZA took “Honeybee” – an extremely upbeat song – and turned it into an extremely grimy and chaotic intro for “Clan In Da Front”. Like seriously, “Honeybee” is the LAST song you would think of if you were looking for a sample of that intro.
3. “Is he dead!? The fuck you mean is he fucking dead!!??”
4. GZA should close every rap song ever.
5. Anybody who criticizes the newest Run The Jewels release better hate this album too because it’s basically the same thing. A bunch of brag-rapping with a few introspective and conscious songs. Obviously the sound is way different, but the themes parallel each other.
6. How the fuck did RZA and the boys get into these grainy-ass martial art videos? They are horrendous to watch, and I highly doubt they could have been relatable. I just find the connection between mid-90’s hip-hop in Staten Island and Asian martial arts movies to be strange and hilarious.
7. I noticed Wu-Tang members love to use onomatopoeias. I decided to count and there are, in fact, twenty-one examples of an onomatopoeia being used. If anyone can find a higher number for an album, inform me. Until then, I declare this album as the onomatopoeiast album of all time.
8. Does the combination of crack and weed actually make your eyes bleed?
9. “Method Man” is a prime example of my belief that as long as you have a great flow and a great beat, you are performing a great rap song. I mean it’s cool and all for RapGenius to dissect the lines and find out that line X has THIRTY-TWO DOUBLE ENTENDRES!!! But is it worth it to put all that thought into something that will go over most people’s heads? Instead why don’t you just be like Meth and say something that sounds cool like “The poetry’s in motion, coast-to-coast and, rub it on your skin like lotion”. Rub what on your skin? What? I don’t have an answer for you but I can tell you that it sounds awesome.
10. I always found the “Grunt” sample on Public Enemy’s “Rebel Without A Pause” to be quite overbearing and annoying. In “Protect Ya Neck” RZA does a great job integrating it. It’s very subtle and quiet – to the point where I didn’t recognize the sample until I looked it up – but still effective enough to make a difference.
11. That sound effect they use bleep out the swears in “Protect Ya Neck” is fucking genius.
12. I believe I can say this with conviction: the two best verses on the album are both from “Protect Ya Neck”. It’s either Inspectah’s opening verse, or GZA’s closing. I’ll probably never be able to decide.
14. After Illmatic, this was the second album I fell in love with. Which is surprising considering how polarizing this would be for a new fan.
15. There is simply no aesthetic here aside from a few piano loops. Surprisingly enough, a RapGenius retrospective sums the atmosphere pretty accurately: “broken bottles, cracked skulls, infected needles, petrifying drum stabs and gruesome shrieks”. Mix that with ninjas and you have yourself the Cliffsnotes version of Enter The 36 Chambers.